Botanical: Alchemilla arvensis (SCOP.)
---Synonyms---Parsley Breakstone. Parsley Piercestone. Field Lady's Mantle.
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Parsley Piert is common in Great Britain everywhere, especially in dry soil, being abundant in fields and waste places, on the tops of walls and in gravel-pits.
It is widely distributed throughout Europe and North Africa and has been introduced into North America. Unlike the Common Lady's Mantle, it is not found in this country above an altitude of 1,600 feet.
---Description---Parsley Piert is a smaller and even more inconspicuous plant than the Common Lady's Mantle. The stem is sometimes prostrate, but generally erect, and much branched from the base. It is rarely more than 4 inches high.
The leaves are of a dusky green colour, wedge-shaped, three-cleft, the lobes deeply cut, the whole leaf less than 1/2 inch wide, narrowed into a short foot-stalk with leafy, palmately-cut stipules, sheathing and cleaving to the footstalk. The whole plant is downy with slender, scattered hairs.
The greenish, minute and stalkless flowers are crowded together in tufts almost hidden by the leaves and their large stipules. There is no corolla, the stamens, which have jointed filaments, being inserted at the mouth of the calyx, which is usually four-cleft, as in the preceding species. The plant is in bloom from May to August. It is an annual.
This species is still in high repute with herbalists, and has been used for many centuries for its action on stone in the bladder, on account of which it was given the name of 'Parsley Breakstone' and 'Parsley Piercestone,' which has been corrupted into Parsley Piert, the 'parsley' referring to the form of its cut-into leaves, not to any relationship to the true Parsley.
---Part Used---The whole herb, either fresh or dried. It has an astringent taste, but no odour.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, demulcent and refrigerant. Its chief employment is in gravel, stone, dropsy and generally for complaints of the bladder and kidneys. Acting directly on the parts affected, it is found very valuable, even in apparently incurable cases. It operates violently, but safely, by urine and also removes obstructions of the liver, being therefore useful in jaundice.
Fluid extract: dose, 1 drachm.
It is prescribed in the form of an infusion a handful of the herb to a pint of boiling water - taken daily in half-teacupful doses, three or four times daily. When used alone, it forms a useful remedy in all these complaints, its best action is seen, however, when compounded with other diuretics, such as Broom, Buchu leaves, Wild Carrot, Juniper Berries, Parsley Root and Pellitory-of-the-Wall. To soothe and help the passage of the irritating substance, it is also often combined with a demulcent such as Comfrey, Marshmallow or Sweet Flagroot, Hollyhock or Mullein flowers, Gum Arabic, or Slippery Elm Bark.
- Some of the older herbalists considered it best when fresh gathered. Culpepper, after telling us of its powers in expelling stone, tells us that:
- 'it is a very good salad herb and it were well that the gentry would pickle it up as they pickle up Samphire for their use all the winter because it is a very wholesome herb, and may be kept either dried or in a syrup. You may take a drachm of the powder of it in sherry wine: it will bring away gravel from the kidneys insensibly and without pain. It cures strangury.