"Parsley is gharsley"
--Ogden Nash, in "Further Reflections on Parsley."

"If you will have the leaves of the parcelye grow crisped, then before the sowing of them stuffe a tennis ball with the sedes and beat the same well against the ground whereby the seedes may be a little bruised or when the parcelye is well come up go over the bed with a waighty roller whereby it may so press the leaves down or else tread the same downe under thy feet."
--The Grete Herball, 1539

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(Petroselinum crispum)

Actually, it is an umbillifer, native to the Mediterranean area, and comes in 4 varieties: Neapolitan parsley, which is grown for its stalks, like celery; Hamburg parsley, which is grown for its root; curly parsley; and flat-leaf parsley.

Hercules is supposed to have woven garlands from parsley. And we know that the ancient Greeks revered it, bordered their gardens with it, and wove it into the victor's crown at the Isthmian games. Many believe it was first cultivated in Sardinia and Italy; certainly the Romans loved to use it to crown its military and athletic heroes. Later, Charlemagne was taken by a cheese flavored with parsley seeds and ordered two cases of it to be sent to him each year. Its leaves were also used for chaplets and for funeral decorations in medieval times.

The English to this day say that parsley seed goes seven times to the Devil and back before it germinates (it DOES seem to take forever!) and claim that only witches can grow it. As well, it is traditionally a curative, a property captured by Beatrix Potter in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, when she says about that naughty rabbit, "First he ate some lettuce and some broad beans, then some radishes, and then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley."