by Gini Sage
Both the botanical and common names for parsley were derived from the old Latin ‘Petros selinon’, or Rock Celery. The ancient Greeks honoured parsley as a plant of death, and used it for decorating tombs. The ancient Romans were the first to use parsley as a culinary herb, both for its flavour and its deodorizing properties. Chewing fresh leaves removes the smell of garlic or onions from one’s breath. Parsley is often used to bring out the full flavour of food, and is a key ingredient in the classic fine herbs and bouquet garni.
It is also a rich source of vitamin C, containing more by volume than an orange, and is also a source of iron, calcium and vitamins A and B. Parsley is found most often in either the flat-leaved Italian variety or the curled-leaf varieties. Both are biennials, forming a 2 foot plant the first year, followed by re-growth of the plant with the addition of flower stalks forming umbels of tiny greenish-yellow flowers the second year. Parsley may be grown from seed in the early summer, or from bedding plants. It should be grown in full to partial shade, in a moist, rich soil, either in pots or directly planted in the garden.
Article originally published in the Uxbridge Horticultural Society Newsletter, July 2007