Types of parsley: flat-leaf & curly parsley


I studied horticultural sciences at university and in my free time you can find me in my own patch of land, growing anything with roots. I am particularly passionate about self-sufficiency and seasonal food.

Favourite fruit: quince, cornelian cherry and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: peas, tomatoes and garlic

There are two main types of leaf parsley: curly and flat leaf. Here are the best varieties for growing your own parsley in the garden and pots.

Curly and flat leaf parsley
Curly and flat leaf parsley varieties differ mainly in leaf shape [Photo: Stephen Barnes/ Shutterstock.com]

Parsley (Petroselium crispum ssp. crispum) is one of the most popular kitchen herbs in Europe and has been on the menu since the Middle Ages. Despite being so common, many do not know that there are different varieties, each offering a unique taste and appearance.

Types of parsley: flat leaf and curly parsley

The main two types of parsley – flat leaf and curly parsley – differ mainly in their leaf shape. Flat leaf parsley, as the name implies, has a broad flat leaf. Whereas, curly parsley (also known as moss curled parsley) has finely crinkled leaves. In the Middle Ages, monks bred curly parsley to make it easier to distinguish from the poisonous fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium). Another significant difference between flat and curly parsley is aroma. Flat leaf parsley, in contrast to its curly cousins, is significantly more aromatic and flavourful. When it comes to cultivating parsley, however, there is no difference in care for the different varieties.

The best parsley varieties

Compared to other herbs, different types of parsley show little variation. The Japanese parsley (Cryptoptaenia japonica), also called Japanese hornwort or mitsuba, is only distantly related to parsley, but is used in exactly the same way. Japanese parsley is green to deep red and has significantly larger leaflets than our native parsley, and it is worth mentioning here too. Below are some of our favourite flat leaf, curly and Japanese parsley varieties for growing at home in the garden or in pots.

  • ‘Einfache Schnitt 2’: The striking dark green foliage of this flat leaf parsley stands on sturdy stems. The plants are not only very hardy, but also exceptionally aromatic.
  • ‘Gigante d’Italia’: An Italian flat leaf parsley with strong flavour and rapid growth. It reaches around 30 to 50 cm in height and can be harvested all year round.
  • ‘Gigante di Napoli’: Another early-ripening Italian parsley that can be harvested just a few weeks after sowing. It has smooth, very large, dark green foliage and an intense flavour that is best suited for pesto and salsa verde.
  • ‘Aphrodite’: A particularly aromatic curly parsley that produces numerous leaves on short stems. This compact parsley variety is also good for growing in pots.
  • ‘Green Pearl’: An extremely productive curly parsley that can be harvested even after being overwintered, before flowering. The densely packed and stoutly stemmed leaves of these moss curled ruffles are characteristic of Green Pearl parsley.
  • ‘Moss Curled 2 & Periwinkle’: They form dense, curly leaves that have little tendency to yellow under stress. These curly parsley varieties produce strong, short stems.
  • ‘Riccio Verde’: A particularly compact growing variety. This moss curled parsley is early to medium maturing and has dark green, heavily curled leaves.
Large Japanese parsley leaves
Japanese parsley or mitsuba has significantly larger leaves than other parsley varieties [Photo: Skyprayer2005/ Shutterstock.com]

Mitsuba (Cryptotaenia japonica) means “three leaves” and describes this Japanese parsley very well. Mitsuba’s triple leaflets are much larger than those of flat leaf parsley and have a flavour reminiscent of chervil, celery, and cloves.

  • Mitsuba ‘Bronze’: A deep red to bronze coloured variety. Hardy and perennial, it can be used with its stems and is delicious chopped and sprinkled over all kinds of dishes.
  • Mitsuba ‘Purpurascens’: Has deep red foliage and makes for a special ornament in pots and beds.

Have you selected a variety for growing in your garden or on your balcony? Our article on growing parsley covers everything you need to know about location, sowing, harvesting and storing this classic herb.

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