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For the American herb, see Osmorhiza.
Illustration Myrrhis odorata0.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Myrrhis
Species: M. odorata
Binomial name
Myrrhis odorata
(L.) Scop.
Myrrhis odorata

Cicely /ˈsɪsəli/ or Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the family Apiaceae, native to Central Europe;[1] it is the sole species in the genus Myrrhis.


It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m [6 ft 6 in] tall, depending on circumstances. The leaves are 2-4-pinnate, finely divided, feathery, up to 50 cm long, with whitish patches near the rachis. The plant is softly hairy and smells strongly of aniseed when crushed.[2] The flowers are white, about 2–4 mm across, produced in large umbels. The fruits are slender, 15–25 mm long and 3–4 mm broad.


Myrrhis odorata is native to mountains of southern and central Europe, [1], introduced and naturalized elsewhere in cultivated areas, woodland margins, roadside verges, river banks and grassland.[2]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

In fertile soils it grows readily from seed, and may be increased by division in spring or autumn.[3] Its leaves are sometimes used as a herb, either raw or cooked, with a rather strong taste reminiscent of anise; it is used mainly in Germany and Scandinavia. Like its relatives anise, fennel, and caraway, it can also be used to flavour akvavit. Its essential oils are dominated by anethole. The roots and seeds also are edible. Additionally, it has a history of use as a medicinal herb.[citation needed]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Grieve, M. "Cicely, Sweet". Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Stace, C.A. (2010). New flora of the British isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 450. ISBN 9780521707725.