Much of the folklore associated with parsley refers to a look alike plant called “fool’s parsley” which is Aethusea cynapium, a plant native to Europe, Asia and Africa. It is related to hemlock, and like hemlock, is poisonous; hence the unpleasant meanings.
Ancient Greeks believed that parsley sprung from the blood of Archemorus, whose name meant forerunner of death. Victors at funeral games, athletic games held in honor of a deceased person, were crowned with parsley. The saying “to be in need of parsley” meant that someone was very ill and not expected to survive.
Ironically, parsley was worn at Roman weddings to ward off evil spirits.
Greek gardens often had borders of parsley and rue, which led to the saying, “Oh! We are only at the parsley and rue, to signify when an undertaking was in contemplation and not fully acted upon.
Homer tells of chariot horses being fed parsley by warriors before battle in hopes of making the horses more fleet of foot.
In Tudor times, parsley was thought to be a remedy for baldness.
Modern meanings for parsley must be referring to the parsley that we’re familiar with, as they’re much more pleasant. Parsley means lasting pleasure, festivity to banish misfortune, and useful knowledge.Go to Gardening Information →