The his­tory of chervil

NZ Lifestyle Block - - PLANTS WITH A PURPOSE -

LIKE ITS REL­A­TIVES – pars­ley, dill, car­rot and co­rian­der – chervil’s flow­ers are a valu­able nec­tar source for hun­gry ben­e­fi­cial in­sects. The seeds dry out to ripen in about 6-8 weeks, chang­ing from light brown to dark brown­ish­black when ma­ture.

Its Latin name ( An­thriscus cere­folium) comes from the Latin word chaero­phyl­lum, mean­ing ‘a joy-giv­ing leaf’. In 1699 John Eve­lyn wrote that ‘the ten­der tips of chervil should never be want­ing in our sal­lets (sal­ads), be­ing ex­ceed­ingly whole­some and cheer­ing of the spir­its.’

Chervil is a tonic herb, mean­ing it is strength­en­ing and in­vig­o­rat­ing, stim­u­lat­ing the me­tab­o­lism. In past cen­turies the leaves were made into a very ver­dant, vivid green juice, es­teemed as a blood-cleans­ing spring tonic, and also used for treat­ing eczema, slow-heal­ing wounds and arthri­tis. Chervil juice, or an in­fu­sion of the leaf, were ap­plied to the skin for com­bat­ing thread veins.

Chervil con­tains good amounts of vi­ta­mins A and C, some B vi­ta­mins, iron, mag­ne­sium and man­ganese, plus a lit­tle se­le­nium and zinc. It also con­tains com­pounds that may slow the pro­lif­er­a­tion of cancer cells. Re­search shows sig­nif­i­cant anti-asthma ac­tiv­ity in an­i­mals.

Chervil is es­pe­cially valu­able be­cause it is avail­able in win­ter/early spring when other herbs are not.

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