The most popular herb in Britain today, parsley is a biennial plant best grown as an annual, as in its second year it tends to produce fewer and smaller leaves and run to seed. The variety most often grown in Britain has tightly-curled, bright green leaves, while French parsley has broader, flatter dark green leaves with a more pronounced flavour. Parsley has a stout white vertical taproot, not unlike a parsnip (to which it is related). Another variety, Hamburg root parsley, seldom grown in Britain, has been cultivated as a root vegetable and is used in central and eastern European cuisine.
Parsley is widely used as a companion plant in gardens. It can be cut as required, and the whole plant can be cut back to ground level twice a year.
NUTRITION & HEALTH Parsley is used very widely indeed, as a garnish for hot and cold dishes, in bouquets garnis, to flavour soups and stocks and, fresh or dried, in numerous sauces and dressings. It's perhaps most popularly used fresh, finely chopped, acompanying fish or potatoes.
It leaves are rich in vitamins A,B and C, and contain minerals such as iron and calcium. The fruits and roots are also used medicinally, and infusions of them are thought to stimulate appetite, aid digestion and have a diuretic effect. Juice from fresh roots has been used to help in healing wounds and reducing swellings.
HISTORY. Parsley is native to the Mediterranean, and was used by both ancient Greeks and Romans, albeit in very different ways. The Greeks saw it as promoting appetite and high spirits and wore it round their heads at banquets; the Romans planted it on graves. The Romans also seem to have been the first to use it as a culinary rather than medicinal herb. It was introduced to Britain in the 16th century, and has gained steadily in popularity ever since.