Myrrhis is a genus of plants that contains only one species, known as cicely, sweet cicely, spanish chervil, or garden myrrh. It is a tall, fragrant perennial herb native to England, Ireland, Scandinavia, and central Europe. It is a member of the parsley family. During late spring and early summer is bears clusters of star-shaped white flowers with delicate leaves that resemble fern. Myrrhis is used in cooking when an anise- or licorice-like flavor is desired.
It can grow up to 3 feet tall and spread up to 3 feet. It’s hard to find a perennial with a longer season than sweet cicely–it’s in full leaf from early spring until mid-winter with flowers in May and June. The large seed heads are attractive, too, and work well in dried arrangements. The plant is currently being studied for use as an artificial sweetener for diabetics
The seeds of the Myrrhis plant do not keep well, so should be sewn during the fall, soon after collection. Its seed pods are long and thin, measuring about 0.5 to 1 inch (15-25 mm) long and 0.12 to 0.16 inches (2 to 4 mm) wide. The bright green, feathery leaves can be up to 20 inches (50 cm) in length.
This plant prefers moderately fertile, well-drained, moist soil that has a mildly acidic, neutral, or mildly alkaline pH level. Its water needs are about average, but it is important not to over-water this plant to the point of making the soil muddy. It needs sun or partial shade, and grows best in United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zones three through eight.
Cooks use fresh Myrrhis leaves in green salads, fruit salads, and drinks. Some add the leaves to stew, soup, or dressingts. The roots can be booiled and served as a side dish with a vinaigrette dressing or white sauce. The seeds are sometimes picked green, chopped, and added to ice cream or fruit salad; whole, ripeseeds can be used in apple pie. The liquid left over from cooking the seeds can be used as a sugar replacement.
This is an easy-to-grow herb, with a long growing season compared to other perennial herbs. It is a hardy plant that is not prone3 to insect infestations or common plant diseases. Like many other perennials, in spring or fall the plants can be divided to prevent overcrowding.
Many gardeners enjoy using Myrrhis in traditional herb gardens, window boxes, in garden beds, and as edging or border plants. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are attracted to Myrrhis, and it is one of first nectar-producing plants to come up in the springtime.
Seeds should be sown in the fall in a partially shaded area. The plant prefers cool, moist soil, and is not suitable for humid climates. Plants self-sow readily. Move seedlings to a permanent location in the spring.
- Use fresh young leaves sparingly in salads, and fruit drinks.
- Peeled roots can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Best served with a white sauce or vinaigrette dressing.
Did you know that… you can pick the unripe seeds when they are still green and add them into fruit salads, and chop into ice cream? They have a sweet flavor and a nutty texture. You can also use ripe seeds (dark brown) whole in cooked dishes like apple pie, otherwise crush them. I also add the leaves to soups, stews, and dressings. Add at the end of cooking to retain the best flavor. You can also add to cream for a sweeter, less fatty taste. It is a valuable sweetener, especially for diabetics but also for those of us trying to cut our sugar intake. Add to tart fruits too such as rhubarb, plums, and gooseberries. With red or black currants; add 2-4 teaspoons of dried leaves. Sometimes I mix a handful of fresh leaves with some lemon balm and add to the boiling water of stewed fruit. This gives it a nice flavor and I use almost half the sugar needed. I’ve also read that it makes a nice wine, but I’ve never tried it.
For the beekeeper and butterfly and hummingbird lover this is a good addition to the garden. It’s one of the first nectar plants to appear in the spring. Warning: MANY wild plants look VERY similar to sweet cicely but are highly poisonous. Be sure you have identified a plant accurately before tasting it.
Many herbs and vegetables and perennials are mentioned in the bible. People who lived in Jesus’s time were wonderful herbalists! They used the herbs not only for food, but to flavor food and also for medicinal purposes. They did not visit the doctor at the hospital around the corner. Read HEBREWS 6:7
We know that biblical people set aside plots specifically for herbs: read 1 KINGS 21:2
When the children ofIsraelwandered into the desert and received manna from heaven it was described as what? Read NUMBERS 11:7-9
This is an old fashioned remedy for making a wash for infections. It was used by the Egyptians and Hebrews for incense, cosmetics, perfumes, and medicines. It was also used at that time for embalming. It was considered, as was Frankincense, a rare treasure and was so thought to be a great gift for Baby Jesus! It, too, is a gummy resin derived from the shrub: Commiphora, which is found in Arabia and Abyssinia. Now-a-days, it is used in treating sore throats, infected gums, thrush, and athlete’s foot. It contains cleansing agents, therefore, countering poisons in the body. It also stimulates the circulatory system and is an expectorant! Another name for garden myrhh is sweet cicely. This plant has fern like foliage with dull white flowers and grows to be about 3 feet tall.