Growing and Using Sweet Cicely

Growing and Using Sweet Cicely
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Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata, is a hardy perennial herb that grows well in partial shade. We've had some discussion lately as to whether it could be used as a sugar substitute. It can be added to some dishes to reduce the sweetener, but it's not actually a sugar substitute.
The fresh leaves can be used in salads and you can chop it to use in dishes containing rhubarb, gooseberries and other fruits. They can also be used in fruit salads and drinks. You can use the leaves when baking fish for a nice change. Sweet cicely has a flavor that is similar to anise, but lighter. It can be used in herb vinegars as well.

The root of sweet cicely can be boiled and eaten as you would a root vegetable, or steamed. It can also be candied and used as a breathe freshener or to soothe a sore throat. The seeds can be used in cakes and candy. The leaves can be dried and used in tea blends, but do use it in moderation since it can be a mild laxative.

Sweet cicely is hardy to Zone 2 and is easy to grow. However, it is difficult to germinate the seed because it needs to freeze, then thaw before germinating. Also the seed needs to be fresh to get a good germination rate. It's easiest to look for a plant. Sweet cicely likes a soil that is rich and on the moist side. It also does well in a shaded location. If you are in a hot climate the shade is really important, and the moisture because it doesn't do well in the heat.

Apples with Sweet Cicely


1 1/2 pounds cooking apples
honey or other sweetener to taste
2 teaspoons minced sweet cicely

Peel the apples, core and slice. Place them into a heavy skillet with water to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the sweetener to taste, depending on how tart the apples are. Cover and cook until the apples are tender. Stir the sweet cicely into the apples and cool in the pan. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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