Sweet Cicely is an attractive plant that is a striking component of herb gardens.
This early flowering perennial is renowned for its aniseed taste and fragrance. The plants grow to a height of 90cm (36in), and umbels of tiny white flowers appear from spring to early summer. The fern-like leaves are deeply divided and smell of aniseed when crushed.
Sweet Cicely was formerly a widely cultivated culinary herb, but now only occasionally grown in the herb garden. As a culinary herb it is a valuable sweetener, especially for diabetics and for the many people who are trying to reduce their sugar intake. Used in many savory as well as sweet dishes, it gives a delightful flavour and helps to save almost half the sugar needed.
Sweet Cicely can be used in borders and beds, it flowers early and its ferny foliage, deeply lobed and toothed, set off by the white flowers compliments other flowers beautifully, it also smells divine.
Hardy to about minus 20°C, it is one of the first garden herbs to emerge after winter and the last to die down and is available for much of the year.
It is noted for attracting wildlife and is one of the first nectar plants to appear in spring, so it is extremely valuable to the bees and the beekeeper.