Parsley history, folklore and early medicinal uses include connections to death & poison. Much of the folklore surrounding parsley can be probably attributed to a look-alike plant called fool’s parsley that is actually deadly. Fools parsley contains poisonous alkaloids and even a small amount can lead to serious poisoning, and a larger amount can be fatal.
Common Name: Parsley
Latin/Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum
Other Names: Common Parsley, Garden Parsley, German parsley, Hamburg, Parsley Fruit, Parsley Root, Rock Parsley.
Origin: Central Mediterranean region (southern Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia).
The Ancient Greeks simply associated parsley with death as it was supposed to have sprung from the blood of Archemorus, whose name meant ‘Forerunner of Death.’ The saying ‘to be in need of parsley’ was their way of saying that someone was terribly ill and not expected to survive.
The Romans did not generally eat parsley either but they did wear garlands of parsley on their heads during feasts to ward off intoxication. Parsley was kept away from nursing mothers because it was thought to cause epilepsy in their babies. Ironically, at Roman weddings, wreaths of parsley were given to protect against evil spirits.
Parsley history includes its use as an antidote against poisons. It is suggested that parsley’s ability to counteract the strong smell of garlic is a possible source for this belief and usage.
Fortunately, now we know that Parsley is a good source of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A, folate and iron. Although, excessive consumption of parsley should be avoided by pregnant women. Normal food quantities are safe for them to consume, but consuming excessively large amounts may have uterotinic effects.