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Sweet Cicely, otherwise known as Garden Myrrh, was formerly a widely cultivated culinary herb, as it was said to have been strewn on the floors of churches in medieval Britain, presumably for its scent.
The plant is renowned for its aniseed taste and fragrance and there are many recipes which use different parts of the plant: the roots can be boiled; leaves added to salads; seeds added for flavouring. The plant has also been used as a wood polish creating a deep lustre on wooden surfaces.
This early flowering perennial plant has a bushy, ‘feathery’ appearance and the crushed foliage has a very strong aniseed scent. Producing umbels of white flowers in summer, these ripen to form large seeds in late summer, and these will frequently stay on the stems until winter.
Growing up to 1.2m, Sweet Cicely prefers partial shade and well-drained humus-rich soil, and once established, can become invasive as it self seeds readily.