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Chervil

( Originally Published 1933 )



Salad Chervil

Umbelliferae Annual

The seed of my chervil plants came from France, where it is a favorite seasoning. It looks and tastes like refined parsley. The chervil frisť of the French catalogues is identical with curled chervil and is the variety to choose in preference to the type, for with its curled and frilled leaves it is prettier. It is sparingly naturalized in the eastern United States.

Root. It has a white and single tapering root.

Stem. The stem grows to four inches in my garden al-though Bailey says it reaches a height of one to two feet. It is squarish, much branched, light green and hairy, with lines on it.

Leaf. The leaves are not flat but in several planes and are much compounded and divided.

Flower. The white florets are arranged in tiny umbels. The whole plant smells of anise, and tastes a little peppery and of anise.

Seed. The seeds are long, pointed, with a conspicuous furrow from end to end.

HISTORY AND LEGEND

Pliny says that the seed in vinegar stops hiccough. Parkinson says the leaves put in with "a sallet gives a marvelous relish to the rest" and that "some recommend the green seeds sliced and put in a sallet of herbs and eaten with vinegar and oil, to comfort a cold stomach of the aged . . ." The roots, which take a long time to boil, were eaten in time of plague and should be washed but never scraped, says one authority. It was mentioned by Josselyn.

USES

Medicine. The dried plant is applied externally to bruises and local tumors.

Food. In France to-day it is often in the combination of "fines herbes" and is delicious in salads, particularly potato salad, and as a condiment in soups.

CULTURE

The chervil is an annual, and comes readily from seed. When the leaves are cut off they are said to shoot up again, but in our hot summers the plants seemed not at all robust and soon withered and died. Perhaps, as one grower suggests, they need a little shade.

Vilmorin says its chief merit is that it cannot be con-founded with any other plant, and that is indeed a virtue, because when one goes to pick the leaves of the Umbelli f erae for the salad, one is apt to mistake the coriander for the leaves of the cumin, or anise, a fatal dampening of ardor for the eating of herbs.



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