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Sweet Cicely

Sweet Cicely is an herb that has a vague anise-like aroma and taste.

The plant grows up to 3 feet (1 metre) tall, or higher, and the same wide, from very early spring to late fall. It has bright-green leaves that look like fern leaves.

In May and June, it blossoms with small, creamy-white flowers in clusters. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds like the plant.

It is a perennial that self-seeds enthusiastically.

The leaves lose their taste after the plant flowers, so prevent flowering if you want to use the leaves. Use a few fresh leaves in fruit salads or fruit drinks. They can be dried and used a few teaspoons at a time in tart fruit mixtures, or added to stews, soups, dressings.

A few sprigs of Sweet Cicely added to rhubarb being stewed reduces the tartness of the rhubarb, and therefore the amount of sugar required.
It's not just rhubarb -- really any sour fruit such as gooseberries, red or black currants, etc, can benefit.

The unripe, green seeds are good whole in fruit salads. The ripe, black seeds are best crushed for cooking use, but the taste is so faint that some say it is not worth the bother.

The roots can be treated as a root vegetable.

American Sweet Cicely is Ozmorrhiza longistylis. Its root has a sweet smell and taste like anise.

History Notes

Sweet Cicely is native to Europe.


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Also called:

Myrrhis odorata (Scientific Name)

See also:


Angelica; Angostura Bark; Bay Leaf; Borage; Chamomile; Chervil; Chives; Comfrey; Curry Leaves; Dill; Dried Herbs; Epazote; Filé; Folium Indicum; Garlic Greens; Green Garlic; Gruit; Herbes Salées; Herbs; Hops; Jacob's Ladder; Lady's Bedstraw; Lavender; Loroco; Lovage; Marjoram; Mexican Tarragon; Mint; Mugwort Powder; Oregano; Pennywort; Potherbs; Rolling Mincer; Rosemary; Rue; Sachet Bags; Sage; Salad Burnet; Sarsaparilla; Sassafrass; Savoury; Screw Pine Leaves; Shiso Leaves; Silphium; Sorrel; Stevia; Sweet Cicely; Tarragon; Thyme; Trefoil; Valerian; Wild Garlic; Winter Purslane; Wormwood; Yarrow; Yomogi


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Bon mots

"Food is to eat, not to frame and hang on the wall."

-- William Denton (Quoted by William E. Geist in The New York Times 28 March 1987. Regarding nouvelle cuisine)