Botanical Name: Petroselinum crispum

Family: Umbelliferae

Hindi Name: Ajmooda

The plant is of South European origin, and became popular northwards, in the Middle Ages, when it was commonly grown in monasteries and imperial gardens. It is now cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, West Indies and the US. In India they are found in the Nilgiri Hills and the Malabar coast.

Parsley is known since millennia in the Mediterranean. Its usage for cultic purposes dates back to old Greece. There are three cultivated varieties: var. latifolium (broad-leaved), var.crispum (curly-leaved) and var. tuberosum. The first two varieties are grown for their leaves and the third one for its roots.

The root parsley has a tender, edible root that is used as an aromatic vegetable. The leaf parsley is solely cultivated for its leaves, which are chopped and used as garnish in many European countries. All parts of the plant exhibit the same characteristic aroma, though it is strongest in the root.

It is a hardy, aromatic biennial herb. It produces a rosette of finely divided radical leaves in the first year, and a flowering stalk that grows up to a height of 100 cm in the second year. It has rich green compound leaves and yellowish-green flowers in compound umbels. The fruit (known commonly as seeds) is 3 mm long, crescent-shaped, conspicuously ridge, and has two pericarps. The leaves and seeds are used as spice. The dried herb is green in colour, and has a pleasant, spicy and fragrant aroma.

The composition of parsley is given below:

  • Moisture: 68.4 %
  • Protein: 5.9 %
  • Fat: 1 %
  • Carbohydrates: 19.7 %
  • Fibre: 1.8 %
  • Minerals: 3.2 %
  • Calcium: 390 mg/ 1oog
  • Phosphorus: 200 mg/ 100g
  • Iron: 17.4 %
  • Carotene: 3,200 IU. 100g
  • Thiamine: 0.04 mg/100g
  • Nicotinic acid: 0.5 mg/100g
  • Ascorbic acid: 218 mg/100g

The essential oils of leaves and roots show approximately the same composition. The main components are myristicin, limonene and menthatriene. The curly variety tends to be richer in myristicin, but contain less essential oil than the other varieties. In contrast, the essential oil from the seeds is either dominated by myristicin or by apiole.

All parts of the plant contain an essential oil, oil of parsley, which is responsible for the characteristic aroma and flavour of parsley. The chopped parsley leaves are a popular decoration, in Central Europe, for soups and vegetables.

Parsley is often used for sauces, like the famous German green sauce. That is served with broiled fish. The French bearnaise sauce also makes use of fresh parsley leaves. Quick frying in olive oil prevents the aroma being lost which is the case with prolonged heat treatment.

In the Caucasusian region, parsley appears in the famous Georgian spice mixture khmeli suneli. It is also found, dried or fresh, in the Irani herb blend ghorme.

Parsley is a common spice in Western Asian cuisine, particularly in cold appetisers like hummus (flavoured chickpea puree), or baba ganoush (aubergine puree). In Lebanon, their national dish, a sort of salad, has lots of fresh parsley that is chopped and added with mint leaves. In Turkey, a similar kind of salad with a lot of parsley is popular, but instead of lemon juice, pomegranate juice and tomato paste are added. The root of parsley is used as a vegetable or in soups. The seeds are used in vegetable or lentil dishes.

Parsley is carminative, tonic, aperient and diuretic. A strong decoction of the root is used in kidney composition, stone, gravel, jaundice and dropsy. External application of the leaves may help to dispel tumours. A poultice of the leaves is also effective against stings and bites of poisonous insects.

It is very useful in eye disorders like ulceration of the cornea, cataract, conjunctivitis and sluggishness of the pupil. It aids digestion and effectively counteracts flatulence, genito-urinary and menstrual disorders, and high blood pressure. Parsley is a very effective remedy for bad breath. It has also been proved to be beneficial in the treatment of boils.

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