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Sweet cicely

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Sweet cicely or cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is a perennial herb. It is a delicate plant with a scent; its Latin name refers to it as "fragrant perfume". It was an old cottage garden favourite and still makes for a lovely addition to the kitchen garden. It is a hardy plant.[1]

Description[edit]

Sweet cicely has feathery, soft leaves in a light green colour.

The flowers are white. After flowering, long seedpods form.

Sweet cicely grows to a height of about 1 to 1.5 metres or 3 or so feet during summer. Over winter, the plant will die right back, to return early in spring when the weather starts to warm up again.

Growing sweet cicely[edit]

Select a sunny or partially-shaded place to grow sweet cicely.[1] The plant can be propagated by seed in either autumn or spring.[1]

If the flower stems are cut off when flowering is done, new growth will be encouraged. However, if the flowers are left in place, the seeds can ripen for reseeding or for use in cooking as a spice. If the leaves are needed for culinary use, do not allow the plant to flower or the leaves will lose their flavour during flowering.[2]

Uses for sweet cicely[edit]

Culinary[edit]

Sweet cicely leaves can be added to acidic berries such as blackcurrants and gooseberries, to tone down the acidity with its sweetness (hence the source of the name "sweet" in its name).

The leaves can be eaten raw in salads, and have an aniseed flavour.[2] They can be cooked with vegetables to reduce the acidity in any vegetable.[2]

The leaves can be dried for use in winter.[2]

The root, provided it's not too old, can be eaten either raw or cooked.[2]

The seeds have an aniseed flavour and can be used as a flavouring and even as a mouth freshener when chewed.[2]

A tea can be made from sweet cicely leaves.[2]

Animal friendly[edit]

Sweet cicely is one of the first flowers to appear after winter, helping nectar-seeking insects (bees, flies, beetles, etc.) to find an early food source.[1]

The plant is also known to attract wildlife.[2]

Medicinal[edit]

The plant has aromatic, carminative, expectorant and stomachic qualities for herbal medicine uses.[2] Uses for this plant include the reduction of flatulence and coughs, a stomach stimulant and wound salve.[2]

As with any use of herbs for medicinal purposes, do thorough research first.

Polish[edit]

Crushed unripe green seeds and leaves of sweet cicely can be used to polish furniture. Crush, then wipe over wood surfaces (especially oak), to produce a glossy polish.[2] A pleasant nutty, aniseed like scent will be left behind.

Sources and citations[edit]