The International Herb Association has selected the 2021 Herb of the Year, parsley! It’s botanical name is Petroselinum crispum, and it’s one of the most recognizable of garden herbs. From the famous Simon & Garfunkel song to the curly green garnish on your plate at the elegant restaurants. Did you know that it can also be grown as an ornamental plant in butterfly gardens because it flowers during it’s second, final season?
It has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years and was historically used as a medicinal plant before it became popular as an herbal flavoring. Today, it is widely used in a range of international cuisines, including Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Asian, European, and American. The fresh leaves impart a crisp tangy flavor and are frequently chopped and added on top of dishes immediately before serving. Fresh parsley also adds flavor to salads and egg dishes. Dried, parsley is a standard component of herb blends for soups, stuffing, and sauces. A fresh sprig as a garnish will dress up your meal’s visual plating. After you finish your meal, it will also cleanse your palate and freshen your breath.
Parsley is a biennial that is grown as an annual. Most gardeners prefer to purchase young starter plants rather than attempting to grow from seed because germination is erratic and can take several weeks. During its first year, it’s harvested throughout the summer when the lacy green leaves grow 18″-24″ tall. Typically, it’s not kept into its second, blooming year unless it’s used in ornamental beds. Parsley lends itself well to container culture. It can be grown in a pot on a balcony or patio, or even in a sunny windowsill.
Did you know it’s also an excellent addition to the butterfly garden? It is the preferred host plant for immature Swallowtail butterflies and will attract the adults to your garden to lay their eggs.
Parsley is a healthful food, rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamin C, A and K. As with anything, moderation is key. Consuming large quantities isn’t recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, those on blood thinners or individuals who need to restrict their consumption of oxalic acid.
Growing and gardening with herbs is ever-popular. Parsley is among the many options of annual herbs to choose from, but there are perennial options too!