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Herbs -- Sweet Cicely - Esther Chambliss

This herb belongs to the umbelliferal family (carrot/parsley) and is a perennial. It likes the shade, but does not grow well in hot climates, as it will get leggy and sprawl. It must have long cold winters and moderate summers. It will grow 3 to 6 ft. in heght and produce small white flowers about 3 inchs wide in early summer.

Cicely's fern-like appearance compliments other shate tolerant herbs that also like rich moist soil around their roots. This plant will hold its foliage until mid-winter. It produces a licorice/anise fragrance with spicy green seeds. Always harvest in spring before flowering. Fall planting of seeds will produce seedlings in spring. Plants can be increased by root division and will spread to 12-18". Seed viability is extremely short.

Success of growing the plant increases the farther north in gardens. This herb requires freeze and thaw periods to propagate from seeds. Monks grew this umbelliferal in the shade and sowed the seeds in the fall. Books will mention digging up the root in Autumn and using fresh or dried roots for decoctions.

Culinary - used like parsley in salads, soups, wine cups, flavoring for stewed fruit, yogurt, and in whipping cream and butter. To reduce tartness in acid foods leaves can be added to recipes. The flowers are used in salads.

Medicinal - Can be used as a mild antiseptic; as a sugar substitute for diabetics; for coughs.

Crafts - seed heads are used in flower arrangements; use in potpourris; you can even use the seeds of this herb pounded up and rubbed into wood for polish!

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