CHERVIL

Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Anthriscus cerefolium Hoffm.

Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.

Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium Hoffm., Scandix cerefolium L., or Cerefolium cerefolium Britt., is native to the Caucasus Mountain, south Russia, and western Asia, and is naturalized in the United States. Known as garden chervil, salad chervil, gourmet parsley, and French parsley, this small, hardy plant reaches a height of 0.5 meters. An annual, chervil develops pinnate leaves with deeply cut ovate segments, producing a foliage that is very finely divided in appearance (14.1-4). Small white flowers are borne in compound umbels. The herb is produced commercially in France and the western United States.

The reported life zone of chervil is 7 to 21 degrees centigrade with an annual precipitation of 0.5 to 1.3 meters and a soil pH of 5.0 to 8.2 (4.1-31). The plant grows best in cool, shaded or partially shaded locations on well-drained soils. It is usually grown as a spring or autumn crop because high temperatures cause rapid bolting. The leaves can be harvested 8 to 12 weeks after seeding and must be careful to prevent significant loss of flavor.

Fresh leaves of chervil are parsley-flavored with an anise-like fragrance. The leaves, used to intensify the flavor of other hebs, are employed in salads, soups, garnishes, meats, fish, sauces, eggs, and vinegar. Chervil is perhaps best noted for use in combinat herbs such as basil, chives, and tarragon. The collective blend is called "fine herbes" and used in French cuisine. As a kitchen spice, chervil is often substituted for French tarragon where the latter is unavailable.

As a medicinal plant, chervil is considered a diuretic, expectorant, and stimulant. It has been used against eczema and to lower blood pressure. Another Anthriscus species, hedge paraley, is suspected of causing allergic reactions, such as hay fever, resulting from contact with the flowers (11.1-96) .

Chaerophyllum bulbosum L., called chervil or tuberous chervil, is a hardy biennial that produces an edible root. A member of the Apiaceae family, this plant is native to southern Europe. Its culture is similar to that of carrots, and it produces an externally grey or blackish root that has a yellowish-white, sweet-tasting flesh. The roots are used as a vegetable.

Chervil is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as a natural seasoning/flavoring and plant extract (21 CFR section 182.10, 182.20 [1982]).

[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].


Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index

Last modified 6-Dec-1997