Today I am featuring a new found friend in my current neigbourhood, Sweet Cicely. A beautiful fragranced and delicate plant. It has a gentle feel about it, for me anyway.
The Sweet Cicely is known by many folk names, British Myrrh, Sweet chervil, The Roman plant, Cow chervil, Shepherd’s needle, Smooth Cicely, Sweet bracken, Sweet fern, Sweet humlock. The plant has a flavour rather like anise with a scent like lovage and it is very attractive to bees. All parts of the plant are edible and were used for food in the old days. The old herbalist describes the plant as ‘so harmless you cannot use it amiss.’
The name Myrrhis odorata derives from the Greek word for perfume because of its myrrh-like smell. Odorata means sweet-scented. Sweet Cicely derives from the mountains in Central Europe where it is a wild plant. Today it is feral in northern Europe.
Apparently the plant was brought by monks to the North from Central Europe in the Middle Ages, and they used it as well for food as for medicine. Leaves and stalks are good in fruit soups and as a green sprinkle on food and as a spice in marmalade.
The stalks were candied, and they were also used in stewed rhubarbs since it lessened the strong taste. A drink can be made which resembles the Greek alcohol Ouzo. Essence can be made by the flowers, the seed, the root and the green leaves. Pour alcohol over and make it draw for some days. This gives a fine light green drink with a piquant taste of anise.
In medicine the monks used the plant for digestive problems and for anemia in elderly people. The leaves were used as an incense for asthma. Infusions were used for flatulence and coughs. The roots have antiseptic action and were used to cure the bites of mad dogs and snakes. Steeped in wine, they were a remedy for consumption. It can be eaten as a general tonic.
It seems to be fond of river banks and likes sunny/shady areas.
Magical properties of the plant:
“This is the herb of Alfheim, used to honor the alfar and the fey. It is a pair with Fennel – “felamihtigu twa”, the mighty two, and they are most often used in conjunction. Tea of Sweet Cicely and Fennel protects against elf-shot; tea to drink or salve rubbed on the afflicted area treats cases of it. Sweet Cicely also aids in the Gift of Sight, in this case the ability to see beauty beneath ugliness, power beneath simplicity, and possibility beneath limitation. It is a useful plant when faced with clients who are living in a swamp of negativity, and you have to find them some hope. Drink in tea or smoke it or eat the seeds (preferably six of them).” – Source:
What I loved about it was the way it interacted with me. We fell in love instantly. When I put the leaves in my mouth, it was like someone had sprinkled a dusting of anise flavoured icing sugar over my tongue both in the taste and the sensation. It sweetens the breath and sweetens the tongue. In turn it sweetens the heart, sweetening the air as it passes out over the tongue. It opens up the eyes and heart of the poet, inducing the flow of the sweet honeyed sap of the Muse, succured and nurtured by Beauty.
I have added a couple of my favourite sites for reference and further research: