Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, an umbelliferous plant, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, related to coriander and celery. The Ancient Greeks called both parsley and celery sélinon, differentiating between the two when the need arose by adding the prefix petro ‘rock celery’, from which both its modern name and that of celery are dervied. They regarded parsley as the plant of death, and associated it with Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, death and evil; it was strewn over corpses and included in their burial wreaths and garlands. Parsley was one of the plants grown in Circe’s pleasant lawn in The Odyssey.

In Medieval times, parsley was used in folk magic to protect, purify and to provoke lust, and several superstitions grew up around the plant.

Parsley is a notoriously difficult herb to grow because of the long germination period needed by its seeds, and the Medieval explanation for this was that the seeds had to pay several visits to the devil before they would grow.


Parsley family. A large family of aromatic herbs, the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), characterized by compound leaves and small flowers grouped in umbels and including vegetables such as celery, dill, parsley, and parsnips and spices such as anise, coriander, and cumin. Also caraway, chervil, fennel.

"...and marjorams and new-sprouting parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam. The grots and rocky walls were already starred with saxifrages..." [Back to Herblore]

Bedded growth

Parsley in bloom