Parsley piert (Aphanes arvensis) grows on arable land and wasteland throughout theBritish Isles. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with parsley. The name is a corruption of the French “perce-pierre”, which means “stone piercer”.
Parsely piert is a sprawling plant that grows to no more than 8 inches (20 cms) high. The leaves, which grow on short stalks, have three segments that are lobed at the tip.
It flowers from April to September, the tiny flowers being green and having no petals but only sepals. The fruits are oval in shape.
Because the plant often grows in stony ground it was often assumed that it had broken through solid rock to reach the surface, hence the name. However, this is simply not true. This belief led to the notion that a medicine made from parsley piert would break up gallstones and kidney stones. One has to assume that any cures were purely coincidental!
Anther medicinal use in former times was to treat intestinal complaints. This led to the alternative names of “colicwort” and “bowel-hive-grass” (hive is another word for inflammation).