Gardening for You: Pretty, plain, pollinator-friendly parsley

Parsley is a must-grow edible for any garden that appears in early spring and lasts into the autumn. Parsley is a staple in kitchen gardens and it doubles as a host plant for swallowtail butterflies in ornamental pollinator gardens.

Parsley is a member of the Apiaceae (formerly Umbelliferae) family. Other common members of the family are carrot, celery, cilantro, and dill. The original design of Umbelliferae recognized the umbel inflorescences but the reclassified Apiaceae connects the essential oil apiol with all family members. Apiol is the highly aromatic “essence” present in Apiaceae foliage.

Parsley is a culinary herb native to Europe and the Mediterranean region grown for its aromatic edible leaves, which are used fresh or dried.

There are three parsley types: curly, flat-leaved and Hamburg parsley. Curly or French leafed has cupped leaves widely used as garnish; flat leafed or Italian parsley has a strong flavor and is most commonly found in the grocers; the uncommon Hamburg parsley has a swollen parsnip-like root.


Parsley is a biennial. The first season produces vegetative growth of bright green, fern-like leaves that grow from a whorled or rosetted central stem forming a rounded clump. Compound leaves are divided and subdivided into curly or flat lobed leaflets that are borne alternately on a petiole, the stalk that attaches the leaf to the actual stem.

Leaves provide table fresh foliage for months when harvested young, continuing until freezes damage the leaves. Parsley plants are pretty as edgings, borders, or container plants.

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