Related entry: Carum
Carum petroselinum Benth. & Hook. f. Parsley.
Old World. Parsley is cultivated everywhere in gardens, for use as a seasoning and as a garnish. Eaten with any dish strongly seasoned with onions, it takes off the smell of onion and prevents the after taste. It excels other herbs for communicating flavor to soups and stews. Among the Greeks and Romans, parsley formed part of the festive garlands, and Pliny states that in his time there was not a salad or a sauce presented at table without it. The ancients supposed that its grateful smell absorbed the inebriating fumes of wine and by that means prevented intoxication. Parsley seems to be the apium of the ancient Romans, the selinon of Theophrastus, who, 322 B. C., describes two varieties; one with crowded, dense leaves, the other with more open and broader leafage. Columella, 42 A. D., speaks of the broad-leaved and curled sorts and gives directions for the culture of each; and Pliny, 79 A. D., mentions the cultivated form as having varieties with a thick leaf and a crisp leaf, evidently copying from Theophrastus. He adds, however, apparently from his own observation, that apium is in general esteem, for the sprays find use in large quantities in broths and give a peculiar palatability to condimental foods. In Achaea, it is used, so he says, for the victor's crown in the Nemean games.
A little later, Galen, 164 A. D., praises parsley as among the commonest of foods, sweet and grateful to the stomach, and says that some eat it with smyrnium mixed with the leaves of lettuce. Palladius, about 210 A. D., mentions the method of procuring the curled form from the common and says that old seed germinates more freely than fresh seed. (This is a peculiarity of parsley seed at present and is directly the opposite to that of celery seed.) Apicius, 230 A. D., a writer on cookery, makes use of the apium viride and of the seed. In the thirteenth century, Albertus Magnus speaks of apium and petroselinum as being kitchen-garden plants; he speaks of each as being an herb the first year, a vegetable the second year of growth. He says apium has broader and larger leaves than petroselinum and that petroselinum has leaves like the cicuta; and that the petroselinum is more of a medicine than a food.
Booth states that parsley was introduced into England in 1548 from Sardinia. In addition to its general use, in Cornwall where it is much esteemed, it is largely used in parsley pies. The plant is now naturalized in some parts of England and Scotland. Parsley is mentioned as seen on the coast of Massachusetts by Verazzano, about 1524, but this is undoubtedly an error. Two kinds, the common and curled, are mentioned for our gardens by McMahon, 1806. Pessenden, 1828, names three sorts, and Thorburn, 1881, four sorts.
At the present time we have five forms; the common or plain-leaved, the celery-leaved or Neapolitan, the curled, the fem-leaved and the Hamburg, or turnip-rooted.
I. Plain-Leaved Parsley.
The plain-leaved form is not now much grown, having been superseded by the more ornamental, curled forms. In 1552, Tragus says there is no kitchen-garden in Germany without it and it is used by the rich as well as the poor. Matthiolus, 1558 and 1570, says it is one of the most common plants of the garden. In 1778, Mawe says it is the sort most commonly grown in English gardens but many prefer the curled kinds; in 1834, Don says it is seldom cultivated. It was in American gardens in 1806.
- Apium hortense. Matth. 362. 1558; 512. 1570; 562. 1598; Pin. 333. 1561; Dalechamp 700. 1587; Lob. Icon. 706. 1591; Ger. 861. 1597; Dod. 694. 1616.
- Garden parsley. Lyte Dod. 696. 1586.
- Common parsley. Ray 448. 1686; McMahon 127. 18o6.
- Plane parsley. Mawe 1778.
- Common plain-leaved. Don 3:279. 1834.
- Plain parsley. Burr. 433. 1863.
- Persil commun. Vilm. 403. 1883.
II The Celery-Leaved or Neapolitan.
The Celery-leaved, or Neapolitan, is scarcely known outside of Naples. It differs from common parsley in the large size of its leaves and leaf-stalks and it may be blanched as a celery. It was introduced into France by Vilmorin in 1823. Pliny mentions parsleys with thick stalks and says the stalks of some are white. This may be the Apium hortense maximum of Bauhin, 1596, as the description applies well. He says it is now grown in gardens and was first called English Apium. He does not mention it in his Pinax, 1623, under the same name, but under that of latifolium. Linnaeus considers this to be Ligusticum peregrinum.
- Persil celeri ou de Naples. L'Hort. Franc. 1824.
- Naples or Celery-leaved. Burr 434. 1863.
- Persil grand de Naples. Vilm. 404. 1883.
III. Curled Parsley.
Of these, there are many varieties, differing but in degree, such as the Curled, Extra Curled, Moss Curled and Triple Curled. Pena and Lobel, 1570, mention this form and say it is very elegant and rare, brought from the mountains the past year and grown in gardens, the leaves curled on the borders, very graceful and tremulous, with minute incisions. In the synonymy, many of the figures do not exhibit the curled aspect which the name and description indicate; hence, we make two divisions, the curled and the very curled. The curled was in American gardens preceding 1806.
- (a) The curled.
- Apium crispum sive multifidum. Ger. 861. 1597. cum ic.
- Apium crispum. Matth. Op. 562. 1598. cum ic.
- (b) Very curled.
- Apium crispatum. Advers. 315. 1570; Dalechamp 700. 1587.
- Apium. Cam. Epit. 526. 1586.
- Petroselinum vulgo, crispum. Bauh. J. 3:pt. 2, 97. 1651.
- Curled. Townsend. 1726; Mawe 1778; McMahon 127. 1806. Thorb. Kal. 1821.
- Apium crispum. Mill. Diet. 1731, from Mill. Diet. 1807.
- Apium petroselinum. Bryant . 1783.
- Curled or Double. Fessenden 222. 1828; Bridgeman 1832.
- Persil frise. L'Hort. Franc. 1824; Vilm. 404. 1883.
- Dwarf curled. Fessenden 222. 1828; Burr 432. 1863.
- Curled leaved. Don 3:279. 1834.
IV. Fern-Leaved Parsley.
The Fem-leaved has leaves which are not curled but are divided into a very great number of small, thread-like segments and is of a very dark green color. It is included in American seed catalogs of 1878. This form seems, however, to be described by Bauhin in his edition of Matthiolus, 1598, as a kind with leaves of the coriander, but with very many extending from one branch, lacinate and the stem-leaves unlike the coriander because long and narrow.
V. Hamburg or Turnip-Rooted.
Hamburg parsley is grown for its roots, which are used as are parsnips. It seems to have been used in Germany in 1542, or earlier, but its use was indicated as of Holland origin even then in the name used, Dutch parsley. It did not reach England until long after. In 1726, Townsend, a seedsman, had heard that "the people in Holland boil the roots of it and eat it as a good dish." Miller is said to have introduced it in 1727 and to have grown it himself for some years before it became appreciated. In 1778, it is said to be called Hamburg parsley and to be in esteem. In 1783, Bryant mentions its frequent occurrence in the London markets. It was in American gardens in 1806.
- Oreoselinum. Fuch. 573. 1542.
- Petroselinum. Trag. 459. 1552.
- Apium. Cam. Epit. 526. 1586.
- Apium hortense Fuchsii. Bauh. J. 3:pt. 2, 97. 1651.
- Apium latifolium. Mill. Diet. 1737.
- Dutch parsley. Gard. Kal. 127. 1765.
- Hamburg parsley. Mawe 1778.
- Broad-leaved. Mawe 1778.
- Hamburg or large rooted. McMahon 1806; Burr 433. 1863.
- Large rooted. Thorb. Kal. 1821.
- Persil tubereux. L'Hort. Franc. 1824.
- Per sit a grosse racine. Vilm. 405. 1883.
- A persil panache (plumed parsley) is mentioned by Pirolle, in L'Hort. Franfais, 1824.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.