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Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.



CHERVIL
UMBELLIFERAE
aka Anise-flavored Parsley
(Anthriscus cerefolium)
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ROOTS POISONOUS unless boiled first!

CONTAINS: Essential oil, calcium, potassium, sulfur.

An erect hardy annual to 2 feet well known to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Europeans, and Arabs. Native to southeast Europe and western Asia, but naturalized in the United States. STEMS are hollow with silky hairs. LEAVES are opposite, pale green (turning pink in fall), fernlike (compound), and delicate; only the lower leaves have stalks, the upper leaves being sessile. FLOWERS are small and white, appearing in flat umbels. ROOT is thin and white. FRUIT is oblong, segmented, and beaked (1/4 inch long).
♦ The name is said to derive from 'cheirei' and 'phyllum' (that which rejoices the heart).
♦ Astrologically ruled by Jupiter.

PROPAGATION Fresh seed in fall (needs light); seed viable one year. Hardy annual which will reseed. Can also be started with saved seed in the spring (thin to 8 inches apart) at soil temp of 60 to 70 degrees F. and pH of 6 to 8; stagger plantings 3 weeks apart to insure a summer-long supply; germination takes 7 to 14 days. Best to sow in situ as Chervil does not transplant well.
NEEDS Filtered sun in moist, humusy, fertile soil. Best in garden and prefers a cool, moist climate. Tends to bolt in heat or in dry, sunny locations. Leaves are ready to harvest 6 to 8 weeks from sowing. Can be grown in a pot or windowbox.
FLOWERS June to July.
PART USED Leaves, Juice.
HARVEST LEAVES before flowering.
FORM INFUSIONS, POULTICES, VINEGARS; used fresh or frozen for later use.
CULTIVATED VARIETIES There are two varieties Plain and Curly (just as with Parsley).

USES

MEDICINAL:
♦ Not often used medicinally these days. One notable exception is the use of the infusion in Europe to lower blood pressure. Any effectiveness may be due to its diuretic activity; fluid rentention causing the blood pressure to rise and being benefitted by a diuretic. No research has been able to validate any claims for this herb.
Infusion of the leaves and flowers have been used as a diuretic, bitter, aromatic, tonic, stimulant, expectorant, digestive aid, and to thin the blood; particular effect on the liver and kidneys. The JUICE (used sparingly, 2 to 3 drops in water) has been used as a laxative. In Europe the leaves have been eaten raw to dissolve blood clots.
In the past the infusion has been used as a spring tonic (sometimes combined with dandelion and yarrow) and for poor memory and mental depression; also for fluid rentention, high blood pressure, gout, kidney stones, pleurisy, dropsy, menstrual problems, rheumatism, eczema, respiratory problems, digestive problems (Gerard advocated it to strengthen a 'weak stomach'), and jaundice. The JUICE has also been used for the same problems. Has also been combined with Dandelion and Yarrow to treat scrofula, dropsy, and eczema.
One method of using Chervil as a diuretic was to boil the leaves in wine; taken a mouthful at a time for urinary problems.
Has been used externally for conjunctivitis, inflamed eyelids, and hemorrhoids. Poultices of the fresh leaves have been used for boils, bruises, and skin problems.
Was used by Pliny and Culpeper to warm the stomachs of the elderly. Although poisonous when fresh, the roots were boiled, then candied to treat a cold stomach. Another ancient method to warm the stomach was to slice green seeds and place them in a salad with oil and vinegar dressing.
Chervil vinegar has been used for hiccups. In the MIddle Ages, hiccups were said to be cured by eating an entire plant. Another version was the drinking of Chervil vinegar prepared with the seed.
Juice from the leaves and stems has been used on stinging insect bites.

DOSE: TRADITIONAL DOSAGES FOR PROFESSIONAL NOTE ONLY
All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 30 to 60
INFUSION = 1 tsp fresh or dried leaves with 1/2 cup of water; steep 10 minutes; taken 1/2 to 1 cup daily, a mouthful at a time.

VETERINARY:
Given to livestock as an appetizer for loss of appetite; also to improve eyesight. Dose is 1 handful daily.

CULINARY:
♦ NOTE: Flavor is delicate and will not take prolonged cooking; add to dish just before serving; also true of the dried herb as the flavor is lost to a large degree in the drying process.
Many uses where its unique anise-like flavor is desired such as soups, bitter sauces, vegetables, and meat dishes. Used as a garnish on meats.
Added raw and chopped to salads, or used as a garnish.
Leaves are added to potato, egg, fish, and cheese dishes.
An ingredient of fines herbes.
Used as a substitute for Tarragon.
Chervil soaked in brandy for a few weeks, then strained, was a European copy of an Arab liqueur which was made with chervil and cherry flavoring.
One of the medieval Lenten Herbs which was eaten during Lent. It was also traditional to serve Chervil Soup on Holy thursday due to the opinion that its taste and fragrance was similar to that of Myrrh (a gift to the Infant Jesus from the Magi).
The term 'pluches de cerfeuille' found in French recipes means 'blanched sprigs of chervil', which are often used in soups.
CHERVIL VINEGAR = Add a handful of bruised seeds to 1¼ pints of white wine vinegar. Allow to steep for 2 to 3 weeks. Strain and bottle.
CHERVIL SOUP = A popular French dish. Peel and chop 3 potatoes and 1 clove of garlic. Place in pot with just enough water to cover, then cook until tender. Put through a food mill or a ricer and add 2 cups of medium cream, some salt and pepper to taste, then reheat to the boiling point (do NOT boil), remove from heat and add 1 to 2 tbsp of chopped chervil (or amount desired).
BEETS = Combine equal amounts of chopped Chervil and Chives and toss with sliced, hot beets which have been previously combined with 1/2 cup of sour cream (or yogurt) and 1 tsp Dijon Mustard.

COSMETIC:
An infusion of fresh leaf is used as a skin cleanser and lotion to clear skin.
Chervil steeped in brandy was once used as a face splash in the evening to tone the skin.
The juice of the stems and leaves has been rubbed on blemishes.

CRAFTS:
Flowers are used in dried arrangements and tussie mussies; both flowers and leaves used in potpourris.

OTHER:
Greek nobles used a sprig of chervil to wave blessings at others.
Included in herbal smoking mixtures.
In Earth religions Chervil is considered an Herb of Immortality and is used as an elixir or incense to get in touch with one's soul or the souls of those departed (as a guide to the new spirit to reach peace and serenity). Is also considered an aid to magic and is added to amulets. It is deemed especially important for those worshipping the Goddess and those who study the mysteries of the Cauldron of Cerridwen.

COMPANION:
Radishes (said to make them hotter). Also plant near lettuce to protect lettuce from ants, aphids, and slugs.

LANGUAGE:
Sincerity.




©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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