Apium petroselinum. Parsley.
Nat. Ord.— Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Digynia.
Description. — Apium Petroselinum, Willdenow, or Petroselinum Sativum, Hoffman, has a biennial, fleshy, fusiform root, with an annual, round, furrowed, joint, erect, branching stem, striate with green and yellow lines, and rising from two to four feet in bight. The radical leaves are compound, pinnated in ternaries, on long channeled stalks ; the leaflets are rhomboidal-ovate, wedge-shaped at the base, deeply incised, with the segments mucronate, and sometimes rounded. Upper leaves gradually become more entire and narrower, till the uppermost are simply ternate with linear segments. Umbels terminal, axillary, pedunculated, and with five to eight rays. General involucre none, or one to two subulate minute bracts; partial involucre with six or eight setaceous bracts, much shorter than the pedicels, erect, forming a perfect whorl. Flowers white or greenish ; petals rounded, incurved, scarcely emarginate ; calyx with the limb obsolete ; disk short, conical, somewhat crenulate ; styles diverging. Fruit ovate, about a line long, compressed, pale greenish-brown, flat on one side, convex on the other, and marked with five longitudinal ridges. Stamens longer than the corolla.
History. — This plant is a native of Europe, but is cultivated in gardens throughout the civilized world. The whole plant has an aromatic odor, and the leaves are used for culinary purposes. The root, which is officinal, is fusiform and fleshy, with a pleasant smell, and sweetish taste ; it should be used in the recent state. Its properties depend upon an essential oil, and are taken up by water, wine, alcohol, or ether.
Properties and Uses. — Diuretic. Very useful in dropsy, especially that following scarlatina, and other exanthematous diseases. Also, used in retention of urine, strangury, and gonorrhea. The seeds have a strong, terebinthinate odor, and a warm aromatic taste, and have been used as carminatives, and for the same purposes as the root — they are said to be a deadly poison to the parrot. The seeds, as well as the leaves, sprinkled on the hair, in powder, or in the form of an ointment, will effectually destroy vermin ; the leaves, applied as a fomentation, will, it is asserted, cure the bites or stings of insects. The leaves, bruised, are a good application to contusions, swelled breasts, and enlarged glands — reputed to "dry up the milk" of wet-nurses. The oil is efficacious as a diuretic, in doses of three or four drops a day ; dose of the infusion, two to four ounces, three or four times a day.
Off. Prep. — Infusum Petroselini.