Sweet Cicely

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

sweet cicely the perennial herb Myrrhis odorata, is native to Europe and is widely cultivated there and in Asia. Both the generic and specific names (from Greek and Latin respectively) refer to the plant’s fragrance.

The leaves of sweet cicely, like lacy ferns, are often flecked with white and have slightly downy undersides. They are light green turning purple in the autumn and taste of aniseed. They can be used in spring salads; and their sweetness can be used to remove sourness from food, particularly fruit, so it is useful to add some when stewing rhubarb or gooseberries.