Common name: Chervil
Scientific name: Anthriscus cerefolium
Uses: Aromatic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.Dried chervil may be used to scent potpourris. Fresh leaves and stems are used to flavor soups, casseroles, salads, sauces, eggs (particularly omelettes), carrots, spinach, sorrel, fish, and cheese. Chervil also can be used in herbal butters. Plants may be grown in indoor container gardens. Chervil is said to have some medicinal qualities.
History: Chervil was once called myrrhis for its volatile oil, which has an aroma similar to the resinous substance of myrrh. One of the traditional fines herbes in French cuisine, chervil is valued for its light parsley-like flavor with a hint of myrrh. The benefits of chervil were described by the Roman scholar Pliny, and during the Middle Ages it was used to treat various ailments.
Description: The lacy, light green leaves are opposite, compound, and bipinnate. They are subdivided into opposite and deeply cut leaflets. The lower leaves are petioled, and the upper leaves are sessile with stem sheaths. The round stems are finely grooved, and the thin root is white. Small white flowers grow in compound umbels. The oblong fruit is 1/4 inch long, segmented, and beaked.
Plant type: Annual
Hardiness: Hardiness zones are not applicable to annuals.
Height: 10 to 28 inches
Width: 12 inches
Soil: moist, humus soil with a pH of 6.5
Disease: None noted.
Cultivation: Chervil is susceptible to frost and should be planted in a sheltered area. Sow seeds in the spring in shallow drills 12 inches apart. When seedlings are 3 inches high, thin plants to 3 to 4 inches apart. The seedlings are too fragile to be transplanted. Chervil should be kept well watered at all times. It grows poorly in hot, dry conditions and should be protected from summer sun. For denser foliage, cut flower stems before they bloom.
Companion planting: Chervil and radishes planted together produce hotter radishes.
Flowering period: May to August
Garden notes: Since chervil prefers light shade, it can be grown indoors in pots near a window.