Sweet Cicely

Sweet cicely is one of the important ingredients in Chartreuse liqueur and is also included in the Scandinavian aquavit, which is used as a digestive and an aperitif. Native to moist, cool, mountainous areas of Europe, sweet cicely is a fully hardy perennial, forming a clump of delicate, fern like and very sweet tasting leaves. The large handsome umbelliferous heads of white flowers are followed by slender 2.5cm seeds which are technically fruits. They are aromatic and deliciously nutty when eaten raw and green. Both the leaves and green fruits are very high in anethole, which gives them their sweet anise scent. Mature seeds are shiny dark brown.

Sweet cicely requires a humus rich moist soil, a cool climate and a shady location. Allow the seed to fall around the parent plants, where they will germinate in spring. Alternatively, stratify the seed by placing moist, sterile sand or vermiculite inside a sealed plastic bag and store in the fridge crisper drawer for 8 weeks before sowing in spring. Remove flowering stalks to prolong leaf production. Harvest young leaves for fresh use. They retain little fragrance after drying. Pickle the unripe seeds and clean and store the young roots in brandy.

Boil the roots as a vegetable. They can also be candied like angelica and used as a decoration for desserts. Use the crisp, celery tasting stems in salads. The leaves of sweet cicely have a warm, anise aroma and a pleasantly sweet taste. Use them fresh in salads or add them when cooking sharp fruits such as gooseberries and rhubarb and some varieties of apples, as their natural sweetness will counteract the tartness. The are a safe sweetener for diabetics. The green seeds can be used for the same purpose. Sweet cicely leaves add a lovely flavour to cream, yoghurt, rice pudding, fruit and wine cups, soups, stews and dressings. Use leaves in omelettes and soups or as a garnish.

information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs

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28 thoughts on “Sweet Cicely

  1. G’day Tandy.

    Sweet Cecily! I have it flowering in my garden right now and have been chewing on the young green fruits! Deliciously licorice! Wondered how best to preserve some of these for future use. Any thoughts?
    Roger in New Zealand.

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    1. Hi Roger, I have no idea as we don’t get this here. Have you considered freezing some? Thanks for the visit 🙂

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  2. I never heard of Sweet Cicely…so interesting, thank you so much for the introduction.
    Have a great week ahead Tandy 😀

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    1. My pleasure and I hope your week is amazing 🙂

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  3. Thanks for,the lovely & useful info, Tandy! I know this plant but don’t know its Dutch name,though!

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    1. Let me know if you find out the Dutch name Sophie 🙂

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  4. I would love to try these candied, how intriguing!

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    1. That would be amazing!

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  5. I’ve never seen that in the US! Thanks for the info!

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    1. My pleasure Joanne 🙂

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  6. So Tandy, I never even knew sweet ciciley existed, though I have heard it used as a woman’s name here in the UK. Thank you. Now I must find some and sample it!

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    1. I have been told it grows wild in the UK so I hope you can find some 🙂

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  7. That was so interesting Tandy! I’ve never actually heard of Sweet Cicely before so doubly interesting to discover something new 😀

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    1. It was new for me as well Lorraine 🙂

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  8. Wow,
    I learn something new every time I visit your blog. thanks for sharing.

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    1. my pleasure Asmita, and thanks for the visit 🙂

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  9. Now if I had seen those flowers I would have been fooled into thinking it was elderflower. Shows how much or should I say how little I know.
    Jacqueline sharing the blog ♥ Cupcake CreativeMy Profile

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    1. I have never seen elderflower in nature before! And this is why I don’t pick wild herbs or flowers 🙂

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  10. Thank you so much Tandy,it was great to learn something new today,thanks for the information…you have an adorable blog…
    HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!! 🙂
    Kumar’s Kitchen sharing the blog ♥ CURRIED COMFORT:CHICKPEA STEW…GHUGNI 🙂My Profile

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    1. Thank you so much Kumar, and thank you for the visit 🙂

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  11. Sweet cicely is a new one to me but I think my grandparents would be quite interested 😀

    Cheers
    CCU

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    1. Thanks for the visit Uru 🙂

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  12. Thanks Tandy, I learned something new here today. Very interesting. It also looks like that wild weed that grows in the fields and looks very lacy. Take Care, BAM

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    1. I am not sure about picking wild weeds though as there are so many things that look alike 🙂

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  13. Never heard of sweet cicely before although it looks very similar to ferns I have in my garden.
    Have a super weekend.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    1. Not sure I would eat the ferns though Mandy 😉

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  14. OMW, I think I had that in my old garden and didn’t know what it was! Thanks for making me a bit wiser 🙂

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    1. I have never seen it here 🙂

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