An essential oil obtained from the plant is used in perfumeries for men.An infusion of the leaves is an excellent rinse for dark hair and also helps in the treatment of dandruff.
All parts of the plant can be used medicinally, the root is the part most often used though the seeds have a stronger action. Parsley is antidandruff, antispasmodic, aperient, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactofuge, kidney, stomachic and tonic. An infusion of the roots and seeds is taken after childbirth to promote lactation and help contract the uterus. Parsley is also a mild laxative and is useful for treating anaemia and convalescents. Caution is advised on the internal use of this herb, especially in the form of the essential oil. Excessive doses can cause liver and kidney damage, nerve inflammation and gastro-intestinal haemorrhage. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women or people with kidney diseases. A poultice of the leaves has been applied externally to soothe bites and stings, it is also said to be of value in treating tumours of a cancerous nature. It has been used to treat eye infections, whilst a wad of cotton soaked in the juice will relieve toothache or earache. It is also said to prevent hair loss and to make freckles disappear.If the leaves are kept close to the breasts of a nursing mother for a few days, the milk flow will cease.
The first sowing is made in a greenhouse in late winter. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in mid to late spring. The second sowing is made outdoors in situ in the middle of spring and the third is also made in situ outdoors, this time in mid to late summer.Germination usually takes place in about 7 days at 25°c, though it can take 4 - 6 weeks. Germination time can be reduced by pre-soaking the seed for 12 hours in hot water that is allowed to cool quickly, but be careful not to overdo the heat and cook the seed. The seed remains viable in normal storage for 2 - 3 years.
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Parsley is commonly cultivated for its edible leaves, there are many named varieties. Three main groups of varieties have developed over a period of time and these have been grouped into subspecies as detailed below:-
P. crispum crispum. The curly leafed forms of parsley. This is the more ornamental form, especially when used as a dressing in salads, cooked meals etc. It also has a milder flavour. However the curly leaves tend to hold on to surface water and so they are more likely to contract fungal diseases in the winter. P. crispum neapolitanum Danert. Italian parsley. This has flat, or plain leaves and is considered to have a stronger flavour. This group is also hardier, in part at least because the leaves can shed water easily. P. crispum tuberosum (Bernh.)Crov. Hamburg parsley is a very distinct form with a swollen root that is used as a vegetable. The leaves are not of such good quality as the preceding forms, but can still be used as a flavouring.
Parsley is fairly winter-hardy, though it usually dies down in the cold weather, coming back into growth in early spring. By moving some plants into a protected area such as a greenhouse in the winter, or by putting a frame around them, leaves can usually be made available all winter. Parsley has a long history of use. The ancient Greeks believed that it sprang from the blood of Archemorus, the forerunner of death, and so did not eat it but used it for making wreaths to adorn the dead. The Romans wore garlands of it at feasts in the belief that it would prevent intoxication. They kept it away from nursing mothers, however, believing that it could cause epilepsy in the infant. Parsley is superficially similar to several poisonous species, including Fool's Parsley (Aethusa cynapium). Great care should be exercised if harvesting the plant from the wild. A good bee plant.A good companion plant, especially for growing near roses, tomatoes, carrots, chives and asparagus, giving them all added vigour and protection against certain pests, especially carrot root fly and rose beetles.
Problems, pests & diseases
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