Botanist born in Palermo, Parlatore studied medicine at Palermo but practiced only for a short time -his core activity being during the cholera epidemic of 1837. He soon gave up all other interests to devote his entire attention to botany. His first endeavor was to study the flora of Sicily, publishing in 1838 “Flora Panormitana”.
In 1840 Parlatore left Palermo to begin his extended botanical expeditions. He travelled all through Italy, then to Switzerland, France and England. During the Third Congress of Italian naturalists held in Florence in 1841, Parlatore proposed that a general herbarium be established at Florence. The proposal was supported by the Grand Duke Leopold who sought his assistance for the realization of the herbarium. Parlatore received the post of professor of Botany at the Museum of Natural Sciences and Director of the botanical garden connected with the museum. In 1849 he made an investigation of the flora of the Mont-Blanc chain of the Alps, and in 1851 he explored Northern Europe, Lapland, and Finland.
Parlatore published numerous treatises on botanical topics (i.e. organography, physiology, plant geography, and paleontology) in various periodicals, including the “Giornale Botanico Italiano”, which he founded. He also gave considerable attention to the history of botany in Italy. His lifework in botany, however, is “Flora Italiana”, a five volumes work published between 1848 and 1874.