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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.
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
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.
Uses for sweet cicely
The leaves can be dried for use in winter.
The root, provided it's not too old, can be eaten either raw or cooked.
The seeds have an aniseed flavour and can be used as a flavouring and even as a mouth freshener when chewed.
A tea can be made from sweet cicely leaves.
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.
The plant is also known to attract wildlife.
The plant has aromatic, carminative, expectorant and stomachic qualities for herbal medicine uses. Uses for this plant include the reduction of flatulence and coughs, a stomach stimulant and wound salve.
As with any use of herbs for medicinal purposes, do thorough research first.
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. A pleasant nutty, aniseed like scent will be left behind.