Parsley (Petroselinum crispum; Umbelliferae)

Description

A hardy biennial usually grown as an annual, to

about 1 ft (30 cm) by 6 in. (15 cm) wide; it is thinly

taprooted with very much cut and curled leaves, and tiny

green-yellow flowers in flat-headed clusters from June to

August. Origin, central and southern Europe; naturalised in

Britain.

Uses

Leaves strong and distinctive flavour, widely used in cooking. It contains an appreciable quantity of vitamin C, so has a useful nutritional quality, and stimulates the digestion. Parsley water is said to be good for encouraging the disappearance of freckles.

History

Parsley was used daily in ancient Greece, and it seems likely that the Romans introduced it to Britain, though officially it arrived in 1548, being brought here from Sardinia. Its reputation for slow germination is said to be because it goes to the Devil seven times and back before

sprouting. The common name is a corruption of petro-selinum, via petersylinge and perseli.

Cultivation

Sow in March-April for a summer crop in moist fertile soil and sun or shade; rows should be 1 ft (30 cm) apart, with 6 in. (15 cm) in the row. A warm soil will speed germination, which can take 10—28 days. For winter use, sow in July, and protect in winter with cloches if snow is likely. Remove flowerheads to encourage leaves. It is a good container herb; for pots a 5-in. (12-cm) size is best.

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