Chervil, a Delicate and Versatile Spring Herb

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Sometimes also called French parsley, chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a mild herb that plays an important role in French and Mediterranean cuisines. This annual plant is native to Europe. This herb is closely related to parsley and the two herbs look very similar. But, chervil leaves tend to be smaller, frillier, and paler in color compared to parsley leaves.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Illustration
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Illustration
(Photo by: Otto Wilhelm Thomé/Wikimedia Commons)

Edibility and culinary use

Chervil has light taste and aroma that’s reminiscent of anise or tarragon. Both fresh and dried chervil leaves can be used to enhance the flavor of a dish. However, dried chervil has a weaker taste. Overheating the leaves can also weaken their taste, so it’s actually better to add them to a dish at the end of the cooking process or after it’s done cooking. They pair wonderfully with chicken, fish, and egg dishes. They can also be used to enhance the taste of soups, creamy sauces, and oil-based salad dressings.

People mainly only use chervil leaves for cooking, but its flowers and seeds are edible as well. Much like the leaves, chervil flowers and seeds also have a delicate, anise-like flavor. They can be as a substitute for chervil leaves in recipes. Lastly, the leaves and flowers can be made into juice or tea. Many societies throughout history have been using these herbal drinks for medicinal purposes.

Health benefits

Chervil has been an important part of folk herbal medicine since the Ancient Roman period. This herb is a great source of vitamin A and C. This means consuming chervil can greatly benefit your vision and immune system. It also contains important minerals such as calcium, selenium, potassium, and copper which will help you stay healthy.

Chervil tea and juice are especially good to use as a herbal medicine due to their potency. These drinks can help treat different ailments, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive problems, constipation, cough, gum diseases, mouth ulcers, and fluid retention. Additionally, it can also relieve menstrual cramps and abdominal pain.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) as a Houseplant
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) as a Houseplant
(Photo by: The Croft/Flickr)

You can also apply the tea topically to aid certain skin ailments and maintain skin health. Dabbing it on insect bites and eczema will make them heal faster as well as reduce the itchiness. Adding tea in your skincare routine can also reduce wrinkles, improve the skin’s elasticity, and aid any skin inflammations.

Cultivation

In addition to having wonderful culinary and medicinal benefits, it’s also a great companion plant for carrots, lettuces, and radishes. Cultivating chervil nearby will enhance the quality of the two other plants. It can also help repel harmful insects and protect other plants. Lastly, if you’re tight on space, this plant can grow well in containers, allowing you to put them in your kitchen’s tiny herb garden.

Unlike other herbs, chervil actually prefers cooler temperature and sheltered locations. It also needs to be kept moist all the time. Water them often but be careful to not flood the soil. It should also be noted that chervil has really long roots that don’t respond well to moving and crowding. So, keep that in mind while sowing the seeds.

The seeds can be sown in the spring or fall. You can also sow them in a successive pattern every 2 or 3 weeks up until 6 weeks before the starting frost date. Doing this will ensure you have a constant supply of chervil to use. Sow the seeds in groups of five and plant them just below the soil. Give 1’ space in between each group to avoid overcrowding. They’ll be ready for harvest in 6 or 8 weeks after sowing.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Flowers
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Flowers
(Photo by: Kurt Stüber/Wikimedia Commons)

Be sure to only harvest the young leaves and avoid mature leaves that have turned purple or flowered. Older leaves lose their sweetness and taste bitter instead. Cut the leaves at the base to encourage more growth. Harvest the leaves early in the morning for the best taste.

Cautions

Chervil is generally safe to consume in normal amounts. But it should be avoided during pregnancy. Chervil contains a compound that can trigger mutations in the genes of the developing fetus and thus, cause birth and growth defects.

Conclusion

Chervil is a very useful herb to have. It tastes great as a spice, works wonders as a natural home remedy, and serves nicely as a companion plant. This tasty and helpful plant is known globally for its properties by gardeners and scientists alike. It would not be wrong to say that chervil is an amazing herb.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Catmint, a Useful and Irresistible Herb

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As its name implies, the catmint plant (Nepeta grandiflora) is irresistible for cats. This herb is known to induce euphoria in animals, especially cats. Catmint is part of the mint family and it’s native to the Caucasus. This plant can grow up to 30” tall. It has fragrant, spiky, dark grey-green leaves and dark blue flowers which bloom in the summer. This plant is related to true catnip but tends to appear lusher.

Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Blossoms
Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Blossoms
(Photo by: James Steakley/Wikimedia Commons)

Edibility and culinary use

Despite being known for its effects on cats, cats aren’t the only ones who can enjoy catmint. This plant is edible for humans and it even has some medicinal benefits. The leaves and flowers can be steeped to make tea. Catmint herbal tea has a mild minty taste and a sweet fragrance.

Catmint contains a compound called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is what makes this herb irresistible to cats. Among other benefits, nepetalactone has a calming and relaxing effect. So, this herbal tea really helps in relieving stress and reducing anxiety. It even has a mild sedative effect which can relieve insomnia and allow you to sleep better.

Alternatively, you can also eat the leaves. Young leaves have a lovely minty flavor and a mild fragrance, making them a great aromatic addition for salads. Meanwhile, older leaves can be used as a herb in cooked dishes.

Health benefits

Aside from relieving tension and improving sleep quality, this herb also offers other health benefits. Much like other herbal teas, catmint tea can aid digestive problems such as upset stomachs, excessive gas, diarrhea, and nausea. It’s also good for respiratory problems such as cold, cough, and chest congestion. Catmint can relieve stomach pain and menstrual pain as well.

Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Flowers
Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Flowers
(Photo by: KitAy/Flickr)

Catmint also has a diuretic effect, this induces sweating and increases urination frequency. As a result, this herb is often used to treat fever and water retention. Lastly, it has anti-inflammatory effects, so it can also be used to treat arthritis, hemorrhoids, and bug bites.

Cultivation

Catmint is a wonderful addition to any garden, regardless of whether you wish to make your garden feline-friendly or not. As we’ve covered earlier, catmint is certainly a useful herb to have around. The eye-catching flowers can also attract butterflies that will help your garden thrive. At the same time, it will protect your garden from harmful insects like ants and flea beetles as well as other pests like rats and mice.

Ideally, you should plant catmint in a sunny location, but it can also tolerate partial shade. As for the soil, catnip loves sandy soil and clay soil that’s somewhat moist and well-drained. This hardy plant is drought-resistant, so you don’t have to water them too often. You also don’t need to bother with fertilizer too much, just once or twice a year will do. Catmint can thrive in poor soil. In fact, rich soil may sometimes cause the plant to split in the middle.

Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Flowers
Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Flowers
(Photo by: Lynn Gardner/Flickr)

Start the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Make sure to keep the seeds warm, moist, and fertilized. After they’re well-established, they can be transplanted into your garden after the last danger of frost has passed. Keep them 12” apart from each other to avoid overcrowding. They should be able to start blooming in their first summer if you plant them early enough.

Cautions

Catmint should be avoided by pregnant women and those with a pelvic inflammatory disease because it can induce menstruation. It’s also advisable to stop or limit catmint consumption during menstruation as it may make period flows heavier. Lastly, this herb has sedative effects, so avoid consumption before driving and two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Conclusion

Whether you have a pet cat or not, having a catmint plant around will still benefit you immensely. Aside from being a lovely ornamental plant, it can also help your garden thrive by attracting butterflies and repelling pests. Additionally, catmint has had an extensive history of being a household herbal remedy. Its delicious minty taste makes it great to use in cooking and as an herbal medicine for children.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Bee Balm, Great for Bees and Humans Alike

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The bee balm plant (Monarda didyma)  is a perennial native to North America. This plant is especially common in the Eastern US and can be found growing in woodlands area and along stream banks. They typically grow up to around 2’ to 4’ tall and clump together in a cluster.

Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) Plant with Red Flowers
Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) Plant with Red Flowers
(Photo by: InAweofGod’sCreation/Flickr)

Most people recognize this plant from its unique flowers. The flowers have a cheerful shape that’s reminiscent of fireworks. The blooms come in gorgeous shades of white, red, pink, and purple. Not only beautiful, but bee balm flowers also attract pollinators, such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. That’s why this plant is a great addition to any garden.

Edibility and culinary use

Aside from being beautiful, bee balm is also edible. As part of the mint family, the leaves and blooms have a minty taste and a pleasing citrusy aroma. Historical sources have noted that bee balm leaves and flowers are commonly brewed to make tea. This herbal tea is commonly known as Oswego tea in some parts of the US. this fragrant tea can help relieve sore throats and digestive issues.

These days, the colorful blooms are commonly used as an edible garnish in salads, desserts, and beverages. Fresh bee balm leaves are great for spicing up salads and adding flavor to beverages like lemonade and cocktails. Dried bee balm leaves also make a wonderful culinary spice. It can be used to substitute oregano and thyme is most dishes. The savory, mildly minty flavor pairs really well with egg, beef, lamb, and fish.

Health benefits

Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) Pink Flowers
Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) Pink Flowers
(Photo by: Mascdman/Wikimedia Commons)

Bee balm contains antiseptic, antibacterial, analgesic, antioxidant, and antifungal properties. That’s why this plant has long been used by Native Americans as a medicinal herb. As a natural antiseptic, the leaves can be applied topically or made into a salve to help heal minor wounds and infections. They’re also used to relieve inflammation from bee stings.

Meanwhile, the leaves and blooms are consumed mainly as herbal medicine. It’s especially effective for relieving headaches and digestive problems. Some people even swear by Oswego tea to treat common colds, sore throat, gingivitis, excessive gas, fever, and even PMS. Oswego tea is also soothing and relaxing. It works wonders for anxiety and also promotes better sleep.

Cultivation

Bee balm can serve as both an ornamental plant and as an edible herb. Its flowers will add a cheerful splash of color to your garden while attracting pollinators like hummingbirds to help other plants thrive. And it will serve as a great source of culinary herb and herbal medicine ingredient.

This plant is easy to grow. It loves moist soil that’s rich in organic matters and weed-free. It also requires a lot of sunshine to thrive but will tolerate partial shade, especially in hot areas. Bee balm is not fussy and requires little care. You only need to keep the soil moist. As a self-sowing perennial plant, the plant will reappear year after year without needing too much maintenance.

Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) Plant with Pink Blooms
Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) Plant with Pink Blooms
(Photo by: Patrick Standish/Flickr)

Start the seeds indoors around 8 to 10 weeks before the average last frost date. Harden of the seedlings and transfer them to your garden after the last frost. Don’t plant them too close together because they can spread quickly. Plant them 18” to 24” apart from each other.

 Avoid harvesting the leaves during the first year to ensure optimum growth. The plant will start blooming in the second year and by this point, you can start harvesting the leaves and flowers. It’s recommended to harvest the flowers often to encourage quicker bloom production.

Cautions

While bee balm is generally safe to consume, it should not be consumed by pregnant women, especially in tea form. Oswego tea has been used as a natural remedy to induce menstruation and this might cause miscarriage in pregnant women.

Conclusion

It’s undeniable; bee balm is a wonderfully useful plant to have around. Bee balm can make your garden beautiful, help attract hummingbirds, and even become a great source of natural herbal remedy. As a hardy perennial plant, you can count on this lovely plant to come back year after year to cheer up your garden while also giving you great ingredients to spice up your dishes and make a soothing cup of tea.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org


Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Read more.
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Read more.
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