Sweet Cicely
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Sweet Cicely blossoms.
Myrrhis odorata
Sweet Cicely

Uses: Whole plant
Acquired: 1978
How started:
Source: Medicinal Herb Garden, Univ of Wash, Seattle

An early flowering perennial, known for its aniseed taste and fragrance. The whole plant (leaves, roots, seeds, blossoms) is edible, and smells of aniseed when crushed. Sweet Cicely once was a widely cultivated culinary herb. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, added to soups, omelettes and custards or used fresh in salads. The crisp stalks make a good substitute for celery after light cooking. The roots can be eaten raw in salads or boiled and eaten like parsnips. The roots also make a good wine (?).

The leaves and the seed make good polishes for wood. Simply rub the leaves over the wood and then rub the wood with a clean cloth to remove any greenness. It is particularly good on oak panels, giving a lovely glossy finish and an aromatic smell. The seeds when pounded into a paste were used to make a sweet-smelling furniture polish. See the links for a polish recipe.

The fresh whole plant contains trans-anethole and estragole, the same as star anise (0.05% oil, 85% trans-anethole). These phenylpropanoids are about 13-15 times sweeter than sucrose. The plant contains volatile oil which contains trans-anethole, germacrene-D, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, chavicol methyle ether, alpha-pinene, alpha-farnesene and myrcene. It also contains flavonoids such as luteolin and apigenin glucosides.


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