Botanical description: curly or flat, pinnate, segmented leaves.A biennial; small yellow/green flowers, umbels 8-20, with bracts. Ovoid seeds with longitudinal ridges. Thick fusiform tap root.
Habitat: Native to East Mediterranean, naturalized throughout the world. Britain especially maritime areas of north and west. Also limestone and rocky areas elsewhere.
Part used: Leaf, seed, root
Habitat, Cultivation and harvesting: Seed sown in rows 45 cm apart. Thinned to 15 cm apart. Slow to germinate, process speeded up by watering in with warm water. The leaf is harvested in early summer or when available. Roots are harvested in autumn and seed is collected in 2nd year of growth when plump and green
History/folklore/taste/energetics: warming, pungent, salty, drying
Constituents: Volatile oil including apiol, Bergapten, Flavonoids, Fatty oil in seed, Vitamin c, provitamin A, Iron; also calcium, phosphorous and manganese
Actions: Diuretic, Digestive activity, Antispasmodic
Traditional and current uses
Oedema, dropsy, urinary stones (apiol,myristicin)
Carminative (similarly dill and fennel), flatulence/colic, relaxes bowel and gut
Stimulates stomach activity and secretions thereby inducing hunger and therefore used for anorexia.
Jaundice – the root cleans liver, spleen and belly due to kidney/bile flow (empirical evidence)
Volatile oil reduces contraction of smooth muscle
Potentially abortefacient at high doses and therefore should only be used in culinary amounts during pregnancy
Used for skin affectations and conjunctivitis
Apiol in isolation causes inflammation of the gut lining/kidneys, liver damage, heart arrhythmia, central paralysis, nerve inflammation over 2 years; but this effect is buffered by other constituents in the herb. This highlights the fact that whole plant extracts are safer than isolated constituents.
Also valuable nutritionally; add the leaves to soups, salads and stews or stir fries. Seed can be used in small amounts as a flavouring. Roots are used as a vegetable in many parts of Europe either steamed, roasted or grated into stir fries.
Bean and parsley paté
1 can cannelini beans
juice and grated zest of 1 organic lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper
Salt to taste
Large bunch of flat leaved parsley, stems removed if tough
Black pepper or a little chilli to taste
Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little water or olive oil to get the desired texture. Great with rice, on crackers, with baked potatoes or to accompany other salads
4-6 cups bread crumbs
1 onion finely chopped
Large bunch of parsley plus sprigs of any or all of sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, oregano, chervil all finely chopped together
2 minced cloves of garlic
1/3 cup lemon juice
Grated zest of one lemon (optional)
Black pepper to taste
Mix ingredients together making sure there is enough lemon juice to moisten the mixture. Place in a baking dish and dizzle a little olive oil on to make the top crispy. Bake at 180-200 oC for about 30-40 minutes
Tabbouleh recipe in mint monograph
Falafel recipe in Linseed monograph