Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nyman ex A. W. Hill

Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.

Parsley, Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nyman ex A. W. Hill, is a biennial herb native to Europe and western Asia. Formerly known as Petroselinum hortense Hoffm., Petroselinum sativum Hoff., or Carum petroselinum (L.) Benth. and Hook. f., the plant is extensively cultivated throughout many parts of the world for its aromatic and attractive leaves. Common or curly-leaf parsley, var. crispum, and Italian parsley, var. neapolitanum Danert, are characterized respectively by curled, crisped leaves and flat, noncrisped leaves. Italian parsley was formerly classified as Petroselinum crispum var. latifolium Airy-Shaw. Parsley is grown in the western United States, Germany, France, Hungary, and several other European countries. The erect-growing parsley reaches a height of 0.3 to 0.7 meters and has green leaves and greenish-yellow flowers in compound umbels. Seeds are smooth, ribbed, and ovate.

The reported life zone for parsley is 5 to 26 degrees centigrade with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 4.6 meters and a soil pH of 4.9 and 8.3 (4.1-31). The plant prefers a rich, moist soil with good drainage. Seeds germinate very slowly, and therefore a pretreatment soaking is usually employed to hasten germination. The plant can be either seeded directly or transplanted. Only a rosette of leaves is produced in the first year with a flowering stem appearing early in the second year. Several harvests a year are feasible. Commercially produced parsley seeds are actually mericarps.

Parsley is a rich source of vitamin C and yields a fixed oil, an essential oil, and tannins. The seeds contain both a fixed and volatile oil, the latter being comprised of apiol, myristicin, tetramethoxybenzene, -pinene, and other compounds (1.2-35, 14.1-9, 14.1-35). The leaf or herb oil is considered superior to seed oil, as the volatile characteristics are more similar to parsley leaves. The fixed oil of parsley contains petroseline plus oleic, linoleic, palmatic, and other fatty acids (1.2-6).

The seeds, leaves, and essential oils of parsley are utilized as condiments or seasonings. Fresh leaves are used for garnishing such food dishes as meat, fish, and vegetables. Fresh, dried, and dehydrated leaves flavor a wide array of food products, including salads, sauces, soups, stews, eggs, and processed foods. Parsley-seed oil is employed as a fragrance in perfumes, soaps, and creams. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental edging plant.

As a medicinal plant, parsley has traditionally been used as an antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, and stomachic (11.1-101). The plant has also been used as a remedy for asthma, conjunctivitis, dropsy, fever, and jaundice. The essential oil of parsley seed has been reported to stimulate hepatic regeneration (7.6-57).

New plant forms similar to parsley and of potential economic significance have been obtained by hybridization of parsley and celery, Apium graveolens L. (4.2-179). Turnip-rooted parsley, Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nyman ex A. W. Hill var. tuberosum (Bernh.) Crov., formerly known as Petroselinum hortense var. radicosum (Alef.), is grown for its enlarged edible roots.

Parsley is generally recognized as safe as a natural seasoning/flavoring and plant extract (21 CFR sections 182.10, 182.20 [1992]).

For further information:

Parsley - Fact Sheet Image - link to parsley factsheet on the New Crop server.

[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].

Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index

Last modified 6-Dec-1997