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Get to know parsley, 2021's Herb of the Year

Posted on December 29, 2020

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Parsley is the 2021 Herb of the Year.

Will Lewis | Contributed photo

Parsley is the 2021 Herb of the Year.

Cyndi Lauderdale

Cyndi Lauderdale

Parsley, Petrosilinum crispum, has been selected as the 2021 Herb of the Year. The International Herb Association has chosen an Herb of the Year since 1995. The Herb of The Year must fulfill its mandate by being useful in two out of three herbal categories: medicinal, culinary or decorative. Parsley, in our opinion, is all three.

Parsley, curly or flat, is one of the world’s most popular herbs and has been in cultivation for thousands of years.  

Roman kitchens have used parsley in cooking for 2000 years. Flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor than its curly leaf cousin. Parsley used as a fresh herb offers vitamins A, C and E.

For medicinal purposes, parsley has been widely used for all ailments associated with the liver and kidneys, including bladder infections, gout, jaundice and edema. Leaves also have been used for sprains, bruises, swelling and insect bites. Chewy parsley freshens the breath, a custom of restaurants having a spring of parsley on plates, especially after a meal of garlic.

Parsley is a biennial, meaning the plant will live two years in the garden. Then the plant sets seed. Often, then plants will regrow from those seeds. Parsley can be grown from seed, but sometimes seeds are slow to germinate. Parsley prefers a moist, but not wet, well-drained soil. It also does well in containers. Full sun is a must for best growth.

Even if you don’t like the taste of parsley, it is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies. The swallowtail caterpillars can quickly devour a plant. If you want parsley for cooking and some for butterflies, consider planting more than you want. 

The Wilson Botanical Gardens Culinary and Medicinal Herb Garden always has parsley growing, and we are so excited to announce that we will also have the 2021 Herb of the Year for sale this spring, grown in our greenhouse by our Master Gardener volunteers.

While we aren’t totally sure how our sale will be offered (live or pre-order) we will have a sale in April. If you are on Facebook, please “like” the Wilson Botanical Gardens page so you will be the first to know the date and details of the 2021 Wilson Master Gardener Plant Sale.

For gardening help or questions about gardening, contact the Master Gardener volunteers at 252-237-0113 or wilsonemgv@hotmail.com.

Cyndi Lauderdale is horticulture extension agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension. 

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