Parsley, or garden parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a species of flowering plant in the family Apiaceae that is native to the central and eastern Mediterranean region (Sardinia, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, southern Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), but has been naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and is widely cultivated as a herb, and a vegetable.
Parsley is widely used in European, Middle Eastern, and American cuisine. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. In central Europe, eastern Europe, and southern Europe, as well as in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Flat leaf parsley is similar, but it is easier to cultivate, some say it has a stronger flavor. Root parsley is very common in central, eastern, and southern European cuisines, where it is used as a snack or a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles. It is believed to have been originally grown in Sardinia (Mediterranean area) and was cultivated in around the 3rd century BC. Linnaeus stated its wild habitat to be Sardinia, whence it was brought to England and apparently first cultivated in Britain in 1548, though literary evidence suggests parsley was used in England in the Middle Ages, as early as the Anglo-Saxon period.
Garden parsley is a bright green, biennial plant in temperate climates, or an annual herb in subtropical and tropical areas.
Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm long with numerous 1–3 cm leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter. In the second year, it grows a flowering stem to 75 cm (30 in) tall with sparser leaves and flat-topped 3–10 cm diameter umbels with numerous 2 mm diameter yellow to yellowish-green flowers. The seeds are ovoid, 2–3 mm long, with prominent style remnants at the apex. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. The plant normally dies after seed maturation.