The history of chervil
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.