Chervil and its white flowers

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a hardy annual herb with a sweet odour. In appearance it is like parsley, only a lot finer, paler in color and not as strong. It has white flowers when blossoming. On occasion chervil may grow again in the second year due to its large tap root but this is an exception.

Chervil is a native of the Middle East, the Caucasus and southern Russia. It was brought to Europe by the Romans, who used it in their cooking regularly.


Sowing seed[edit | edit source]

  1. Collect or purchase seeds. If you're collecting seed, choose it from the most robust plants with the curliest leaves. Sowing can begin in mid to late spring for mid summer harvesting and in late summer for winter harvesting in temperate climates.
  2. Chervil growing in a container with parsley
    Choose a suitable planting spot, direct in the garden or in a container. Chervil is best planted where it will remain growing; avoid transplanting it. Look for rich, light soil that drains well. Chervil requires partial shade.
  3. Sow direct from seed. Place the seeds into shallow drills and cover slightly. Keep about 20cm (8 inches) between each plant. Thin out seedlings.
  4. Expect fast germination. For a continuous crop, sow chervil seeds every three to four weeks. It is easy to grow.

Chervil grows to a height of about 30-45cm.

Caring for chervil[edit | edit source]

Keep reasonable moist and ensure it remains partially shaded when growing. Chervil does not thrive under intense heat and flowers quickly and dies off if stressed by heat.

Using chervil[edit | edit source]

Chervil has a slightly sweet taste of aniseed. All parts of chervil can be used for culinary purposes. It is best used fresh but the leaves need to be picked close to using, as they lose their flavour quickly. Some suitable uses include:

  • In dishes where you'd use parsley.
  • Added to dishes as a garnish just before serving, such as soup and stews.
  • As part of herb butter.
  • As part of the French mix of fines herbes. It is a common herb in French cuisine, such as ravigote sauce.
  • Chopped into salads.
  • Cook the leaves like spinach.
  • A good complement to egg and cheese dishes.

Chervil has a very light flavour and it is unlikely to ever overpower a dish.

Medicinal use[edit | edit source]

Chervil doesn't have a great lot of use anymore as a herbal remedy but it can be used for easing water retention and applied to the eye to relieve conjunctivitis (as an eye bath). It is said to have the following medicinal properties: anti-inflammatory, blood purifier and digestive. (Rachel Corby, The Medicine Garden, p.27, (2009)) If using for medicinal purposes, only use the leaves and pick them before the plant flowers.

A hot poultice containing chervil can be used to lessen joint pains.

Companion plant[edit | edit source]

Chervil discourages slugs, ants and aphids. Plant it near plants usually infested by these garden pests, as a potential deterrence.

Legend[edit | edit source]

Chervil has religious meaning for Christians, serving as one of the Lenten herbs. It used to be widely added to soup on Maundy Thursday.

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Authors Felicity
Published 2012
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
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