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Common Name: Parsley[1]

Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum

Thomas Jefferson grew the curled variety of parsley and plain-leaf or Italian Parsley as early as 1774, with added entries in 1778, 1809, 1811, and 1817.[2] In 1794, he included it in his "Objects for the garden this year."[3]While he was President, parsley was bought frequently at the Washington market.[4] He also listed it in his 1823 Compend[ium] of a Calendar.[5]

Parsley is native to southern Europe and has a history of garden use dating back to the ancient Greeks, who associated it with death. From that mythology came the saying "to be in need of parsley," meaning to be dangerously ill and near death.[6] The curled forms were described by Pliny in the first century A.D.[7] Farmers even had faith that it cured certain sheep diseases.[8]

In Virginia, plain-leaved and curled varieties were abundant in the nineteenth century and it was used for garden edging and as a staple in broths and sauces, essential for French cuisine.[9]

Parsley is a hardy biennial herb grown as an annual with flavorful, deep green foliage.

Primary Source References[10]

1823 March 1. (Compend[ium] of a Calendar). "Hotspurs. Marrow fats. spinach. parsley..."[11]

1824 March 21. (Seed & Grain committed to the care of W.McAndrews for Mr. Jefferson). "...Radish, Parsly, Turnips."[12]


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 48, 51, 77, 389, 443, 444, and 564. He notes double parsley in 1814; see Ibid., 523. See Manuscripts and transcriptions at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  3. Ibid, 208.
  4. Ibid, 639.
  5. Ibid, 607.
  6. Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories (London: Black, 1968), 296.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid, 295.
  9. Peter Hatch, "Parsley, with Bread and Butter in the Spring," Monticello Research Report, 28-29.
  10. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  11. Betts, Garden Book, 607.
  12. Ibid, 613.

Further Sources


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