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Sweet Cicely

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

About the only fern leaved member of the Apiaceae family that we consider safe as the aniseed smell is so strong it can’t be mistaken for one of the poisonous varieties.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Sweet Cicely, Sweet Cicely, Garden Myrrh, Sweet Chervil
Scientific Name Myrrhis odorata
Season Start Mar
Season End Oct
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The fern like leaves are distinctive from other Apiaceae as they have what looks like white paint splodges towards the base although these are not always present on every leaf. The young leaves are bright green, these become paler as the plant matures.


The five petaled, white flowers grow in quite dense umbels from April to June.

Seed Pods

Has green elongated seed pods with vertical ridges that turn almost black when fully mature. These can often still be found on the plant well into Autumn.


The stem is round with shallow, vertical ridges and covered in fine hairs.


Hedgerows, field edges and waste ground in Scotland and the north of England. Rarely found south of Birmingham.

Possible Confusion

Can look like several Apiaceae, most similar to Hemlock, pictured, and Wild Chervil but the pale splodges on the leaves and strong aniseed smell should help avoid confusion.


Strongly of aniseed.




Very common in Scotland and the north of England.


The seed pods, leaves, flowers and root of this plant can all be harvested and eaten. You must have permission from the landowner before uprooting any plant.

Other Facts

Sweet Cicely was used in the past to sweeten food and drink before sugar came to the British Isles.


5 comments for Sweet Cicely

  1. Kerry says:

    Hi there

    what is the best way to harvest the seeds please?


    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Wait until the seeds are black and simply pick them.

      1. Maat says:

        Can also be eaten green. Eaten fresh or pickled

  2. Sharon rowlands says:

    I got mine from Beth chatows garden in Cambridgeshire. How can I pass some onto a friend, very difficult to dig out?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      If you wait until yours goes to seed, you can pass sweet cicely to your friend. It should go to seed in late summer depending on where you are in the country.

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