Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Aphanes Sp. - Parsley-piert

Family: Rosaceae (Rose) [E-flora]

"Annual, inconspicuous, soft-hairy, nonglandular. Stem: spreading to erect. Leaf: palmately lobed. Inflorescence: few-flowered cluster, axillary, ± hidden by sheathing stipules; pedicel bractlets 0. Flower: hypanthium ± urn-shaped, bractlets 0 or 4; sepals 4; petals 0; stamen generally 1, pollen sac 1, horseshoe-shaped; pistil generally 1, ovary superior, style attached near base. Fruit: hypanthium encasing achene, not hardened. 10–20 species: worldwide, especially Mediterranean. (Greek: unseen, from hidden flowers)" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Aphanes arvensis - field parsley-piert [E-flora]
  2. Aphanes australis - small-fruited parsley-piert [E-flora]
  3. Aphanes occidentalis- western parsley-piert [E-flora]


Aphanes arvensis - field parsley-piert

"Aphanes arvensis is a ANNUAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to October, and the seeds ripen from Jul to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought." [PFAF]

General: "Low annual herb from a taproot; stems decumbent to erect, 2-20 cm tall, usually freely branched from the base, soft-hairy." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Dry to vernally moist, open rocky slopes, grassy meadows and clearings, roadsides and waste places in the lowland and montane zones; frequent in SW BC, rare inland in S BC; S to CA." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Arable and dry stony ground and old walls on acid and basic soils.[5, 17, 165]" "Most of Europe, including Britain, east to Iran in W. Asia." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]

Caution: "In view of the lack of toxicity data, excessive use of parsley piert and use during pregnancy and lactation should be avoided." [????]


"The curious name of this plant probably derives from perce-pierre, a plant which breaks through stony ground. So, by sympathetic magic, it came to be used medicinally as a specific against kidney stones. Yet it was Culpeper of all people, herbal wizard extraordinary, who first recommended it as an honest domestic pickle. Best as a small-scale addition to salads." [FFF Mabey]

Edible Uses


Medicinal Uses

"Alchemilla arvensis (parsley piert), also referred to as Aphanes arvensis, is another poorly researched plant used widely by British herbalists. It is historically considered to have astringent, diuretic, and antilithic properties." [????]

"Parsley piert has a long history of folk use, being commonly employed to rid the body of stones in the kidney or bladder. It has become a highly respected herb in modern herbalism for the treatment of kidney stones[268]. The whole herb is astringent, demulcent, diuretic and refrigerant[4, 53, 165]. It is used mainly as an infusion in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints (including cystitis and recurrent urinary infections), jaundice etc[4, 238]. A very valuable remedy, acting violently but safely by promoting the flow of urine[4], it is often used in combination with other herbs[238, 254]. The plant is harvested in early summer and can be used fresh or dried[238]. The herb is considered to be most efficacious when it is freshly collected and dried[238]." [PFAF]

Selected Indications: Calculus (f; CAN; GMH); Cystosis (f; GMH; PH2); Dropsy (f; GMH); Dysuria (f; HHB; PH2); Nephrosis (f; GMH; PH2); Stone (f; GMH; PH2); Urethrosis. (f; CAN; PH2). [HMH Duke]

Dosages: "2–4 g herb, or in tea, 3 ×/day (CAN); 2–4 ml liquid herbal extract (1:1 in 25% ethanol) 3 ×/day (CAN); 1 drachm fluid herb extract (GMH); 2–10 ml herbal tincture (1:5 in 45% ethanol) 3 ×/day (CAN)." [HMH Duke]

Phytochemicals: Tannin [PDR]

"(Aphanes arvensis) Parsley (Piert) refers to the form of the leaves, not any relationship to parsley. The common name is from French perce-pierre, meaning breakstone (Prior) and it is actually called Parsley Breakstone (Grigson. 1955) (cf SAXIFRAGE). By sympathy, it was much used against stone in the bladder. Gypsies use an infusion of the dried herb for gravel and other bladder troubles (Vesey-Fitzgerald). It was well-known as a powerful diuretic in Camden’s time, and it was in great demand during World War 11, being used for bladder and kidney troubles, and it is also valuable for jaundice (Brownlow). A decoction with sanicle was used for stomach complaints, but it was especially recommended, powdered and with a little cochineal, for bowel complaints, especially bowel-hive, an inflammation of the bowel, occurring in children. It was even called Bowel-hive, or Bowelhive Grass (Britten & Holland), once. Colicwort is another relevant name, from Herefordshire (Grigson. 1955)." [????]


Activities: "Antipyretic (f; EFS); Demulcent (f; EFS; GMH); Diuretic (f; EFS; GMH; HHB; PH2); Litholytic (f; GMH); Psychostimulant (f; PH2); Vulnerary (f; EFS)." [HMH Duke] Activities "The herb is claimed to be effective as a diuretic and a psychostimulant." [PDR] "Parsley piert is stated to possess diuretic and demulcent properties, and to dissolve urinary deposits. Traditionally, it has been used for kidney and bladder calculi, dysuria, strangury, oedema of renal and hepatic origin, and specifically for renal calculus.(G7,G64)" [????]

"Seed - sow autumn in situ. The seed is best sown in dry weather[238]." [PFAF]

"Succeeds in most well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade[238]. The plant tolerates stony or gravelly soils as well as both acid and alkaline conditions[238]. It grows well in a short lawn[53]. This is an aggregate species that contains a number of very closely related species[17]." [PFAF]

Alchemilla arvensis (L.) Scop.
Alchemilla cuneifolia Nutt.
Alchemilla occidentalis Nutt.
Aphanes occidentalis (Nutt.) Rydb.[E-flora]


Aphanes australis - small-fruited parsley-piert

General: "Low annual herb from a taproot; stems decumbent to erect, 2-20 cm tall, usually freely branched from the base, soft-hairy." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range: "Dry to vernally moist waste places in the lowland zone; infrequent in SW BC; introduced from Europe." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]



Aphanes occidentalis- western parsley-piert

Status: Native [E-flora]


Page last modified on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 8:46 PM