In Praise of Parsley

As the St. Louis Herb Society prepares its first-ever online herb sale, the group sings the praises of parsley, its herb of the year. 

“My goal is to bring parsley back as a valued and important herb in cooking. It is too easily dismissed,” says Anne Cori, Herb Society member and owner of Kitchen Conservatory. Cori kicks off the Herb Society’s parsley promotion with her Missouri Botanical Garden Virtual Member Speaker Series presentation Easy Being Green: In Praise of Parsley on March 16. 

Thought to have originated in Sardinia, where it was cultivated in the 3rd century BC, parsley made its way from the Mediterranean to northern Europe and was first cultivated in England in the mid-1500s. As well as being used to flavor foods in cooking, parsley is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. “It blends well with so many different dishes,” Cori adds, “and is traditionally used with garlic forward dishes to balance out the sharpness of the garlic.”

Green fresh parsley. Close-up on a wooden plate.

The Herb Society will offer four different parsleys in its online herb sale this year. Two are well known: French or curly leaf parsley, most often thought of as a garnish, and Italian or flat leaf, which more closely resembles the natural wild species and is believed to have more flavor. 

The Herb Society is also selling a variety known as Giant of Italy. While normal Italian parsley grows 12 to 18 inches, the bushy, giant Italian version can get as tall as 36 inches, with a spread of 24 inches. It produces abundant dark green leaves and is known for its high yield, making it a great pick for those who use a lot of parsley. 

While the leaves are known to be tasty, Hamburg parsley, the Herb Society’s fourth offering, is actually grown for its thick, stocky root, which resembles a parsnip and is said to have a taste somewhere between a parsnip and a carrot. Popular in Eastern Europe, where it is used to flavor soups and stews, Hamburg parsley can be left in the ground all winter and harvested as needed. It also can be eaten raw as a snack. 

The St. Louis Herb Society Online-Only Herb Sale
March 26–April 2 | Online shopping for Garden members
April 9–16 | Online shopping open to general public while supplies last
April 30–May 1 | Contactless curbside pickup at the Garden

Available via the Society’s website, the online-only herb sale offers Missouri Botanical Garden members (and, later, the general public) the opportunity to shop herb plants carefully selected for their ability to thrive in St. Louis and hard-to-find herbs that appeal to lovers of a variety of cuisines. At least 16 different offerings of basil should satisfy every palate.

Garden members can shop from March 26 through April 2 and receive a 10 percent discount using their membership number and the discount code printed in various member communications. The general public can shop and pay online from April 9 through 16, while supplies last. Contactless, curbside pickup at the Garden will be available at various time slots on the afternoon of April 30 and the morning of May 1.

Val Whitney
St. Louis Herb Society Member and Herb Sale Chair

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