Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), sometimes called garden chervil to distinguish it from similar plants also called chervil, or French parsley, is a delicate annual herb related to parsley. It is commonly used to season mild-flavoured dishes and is a constituent of the French herb mixture fines herbes.
The plants grow to 40–70 cm (16–28 in), with tripinnate leaves that may be curly. The small white flowers form small umbels, 2.54–5 cm (1.000–1.97 in) across. The fruit is about 1 cm long, oblong-ovoid with a slender, ridged beak.
Sometimes referred to as "gourmet's parsley", chervil is used to season poultry, seafood, and young vegetables. It is particularly popular in France, where it is added to omelettes, salads, and soups. More delicate than parsley, it has a faint taste of liquorice or aniseed.
Chervil has had various traditional uses. It was claimed to be useful as a digestive aid, for lowering high blood pressure, and, infused with vinegar, for curing hiccups. Besides its digestive properties, it is used as a mild stimulant.
Chervil has also been implicated in "strimmer dermatitis", or phytophotodermatitis, due to spray from weed trimmers and other forms of contact. Other plants in the family Apiaceae can have similar effects. Precise identification before picking is very necessary due to its similar appearance to Hemlock (Conium), to which it is related. Hemlock is highly toxic and confusion between the two plants could cause death.
Chervil is best grown seeded in place, as transplanting can be difficult, due to the long taproot. It prefers a cool and moist location, otherwise it rapidly goes to seed (also known as bolting). Regular harvesting of leaves also helps to prevent bolting. If plants bolt despite precautions, the plant can be periodically re-sown throughout the growing season, thus producing fresh plants as older plants bolt and go out of production.
Chervil grows to a height of 12 to 24 inches (300 to 610 mm), and a width of 6 to 12 inches (150 to 300 mm).
- Vaughan, J.G.; Geissler, C.A. (1997). The New Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press.
- Gualtiero Simonetti (1990). Stanley Schuler, ed. Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices. Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-671-73489-X.
- The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease, Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W. Ellis, Deborah L. Martin, http://books.google.com/books?isbn=160529179X, Page 363 "Chervil is irresistible to slugs"
- McGee, Rose Marie Nichols; Stuckey, Maggie (2002). The Bountiful Container. Workman Publishing.
- Drugge, Rhett; Dunn, Heather. "Botanical Dermatology Phytophotodermatitis". Electronic Textbook of Dermatology. The Internet Dermatology Society, Inc. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies (Century, 1987), p. 118.