Common chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm.) Is an annual herbaceous plant species belonging to the Apiaceae family.
From a systematic point of view, it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Plantae Kingdom, Tracheobionta Subregion, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Rosidae Subclass, Apiales Order, Apiaceae Family and therefore to the Genus Anthriscus and the Species A. cerefolium.
The term is basic:
– Scandix cerefolium L.
The terms are synonymous:
– Chaerefolium cerefolium Schinz & Thell .;
– Anthriscus sativa Besser, nom. illeg .;
– Cerefolium cerefolium (L.) Britton, comb. illeg .;
– Cerefolium sativum Besser, nom. illeg .;
– Chaerophyllum cerefolium (L.) Crantz;
– Chaerophyllum sativum Lam., Nom. illeg .;
– Selinum cerefolium (L.) E.H.L. Krause;
– Anthriscus cerefolium var. trichocarpa Neilr .;
– Anthriscus cerefolium var. longirostris (Bertol.) Cannon;
– Anthriscus cerefolium subsp. trichosperma (Schult.) Arcang .;
– Anthriscus longirostris Bertol .;
– Anthriscus trichosperma (Schult.) Spreng .;
– Chaerophyllum trichospermum Schult ..
The term Anthriscus comes from anthryscum, a wild plant mentioned by Pliny (from the Greek ἄνθρυσκον ánthryskon antrisco, chervil.
The specific epithet cerefolium comes from the Latin chaerephylla and the Greek χαιρέφυλλον chairéphyllon; it could derive from wax wax and folium leaf: with waxy leaves, but it is also possible that the Greek name derives from χαίρειν chairein delight and from φύλλον phýllon leaf, reference to the good perfume of the leaves.
Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Common chervil is an annual plant of Asian origin present as an adventitia in many regions of Italy.
The plant was imported into Europe by the Romans from southern Russia, the Caucasus or the Middle East; it has now become naturalized in the American, North African and European flora, it grows spontaneously in the woods and meadows.
Its habitat is that of very disturbed and man-made environments such as vegetable gardens and cultivated fields, from sea level to about 1000 m.
Anthriscus cerefolium is a herbaceous plant that grows between 40 and 70 cm.
The leaves are split foil that can curl.
The flowers are small, white in color, gathered in an umbrella-shaped inflorescence of about 2.5 cm in diameter.
Flowering runs from spring to early summer.
The fruits are linear polachenaries of 8-10 x 1-1.5 mm, including the beak of 2-4 mm, hairless or with stiff hairs. Mericarpi with ribs marked only in the beak, with a reniform section, with 5 inconspicuous bollards. Seeds with concave endosperm in the commissural face.
Chervil is a plant that can be grown both in open ground and in pots.
Sowing can take place in any month of the year, but it is recommended to carry out this operation in spring or autumn. At low temperatures the leaves will turn partly red (they remain edible).
If you want to grow in pots, you need to obtain modest sized containers, which can also be placed on windowsills well exposed to sunlight.
The pot must be filled with soil for flowering plants and a part of river sand, which is essential for perfect drainage. The soil must be very soft with a light surface layer of compost.
If grown on the terrace it can be safely placed on windowsills, but also on small balconies. The plant must be moved outside, during the warmer seasons; vice versa, when the cold begins to be excessive, it is possible to move the plant in the house.
In general, chervil grows well when the weather is mild, while it suffers from frosts and excessive heat and with exposure to full sun or partially shaded areas, always trying to avoid direct sunlight.
As for irrigation, watering must be constant in spring and summer, intervening whenever the soil begins to dry out too much. It is not necessary to exaggerate with the quantities of water, but only to ensure frequent watering to the plant.
The chervil multiplies by seed. The best time for sowing in a seedbed is winter (spring, as mentioned before, is the best time to plant seeds in pots or in the garden). In this sense, the seeds must be distributed evenly and covered with a very thin layer of potting soil.
Use a transparent film to raise the humidity level and keep it for a long time. Place the seedbed in very bright environments.
Ventilate once a day. Always keep the temperature between 18 and 20 °
Proceeding in this way you can witness a rapid germination (less than a week). When the seedlings have reached a useful height to be able to handle them without too many problems, you can place them in the final pot or plant them in the ground. After about 6 weeks it will be possible to collect the leaves.
Uses and Traditions –
Anthriscus cerefolium, although in appearance and aroma reminiscent of parsley, is different and can be considered as a refined alternative. It is not easy to find it in stores, but it is still possible to grow it at home.
Delicate and with a very light anise aftertaste: this is the main difference from parsley. Chervil is an aromatic plant that we can define as shy and that manages to enhance each dish with incredible refinement. It is sweet, but also pungent.
As well as being a very important aromatic plant for creating dishes with a unique flavor, Chervil can also be used as a natural remedy to keep insects and other small animals away, as it keeps ants and snails away.
From the point of view of its use in the kitchen, it is a plant used particularly in French cuisine, where it has been used for a long time to accompany any dish, while in Italy it is still little known.
Various medicinal properties are attributed to the plant; fresh leaves have been used since ancient times as a substitute for parsley.
Anthriscus cerefolium is rich in vitamin C, carotene and mineral salts, which make it an excellent natural antioxidant and remineralizing. Micronutrients also play an important detoxifying and diuretic action and, in addition, it is also an excellent cough suppressant.
In phytotherapy, as in the kitchen, only the leaves and flowers of the plant are used, to prepare infusions (to promote digestion and circulation), poultice (for insect bites and skin ulcers), compresses (for eye inflammations and to purify the skin of the face). Often also used for real beauty masks.
For external use it is used for its emollient properties; therefore it is used to treat bruises, insect bites, eyes inflamed by the sun and wind, blepharitis, chilblains and in the preparation of poultices. The decoction was also used to wash the red parts of babies.
For internal use, the infusion is used to treat dropsy, liver colic, rheumatism, gout and menstrual pain. It is considered a blood purifier.
Method of Preparation –
Chervil is indicated wherever parsley can be used, to which it is often preferred for its more delicate flavor. Particularly suitable for eggs.
It is possible to collect the leaves just like you do with parsley, but it is advisable to do it only when you intend to consume them immediately, so you can better enjoy its unmistakable aroma.
The leaves can be dried or frozen but the advice is always to eat them fresh, taking advantage of the important properties of the plant.
For desiccation, the stems must be placed, tied and turned upside down, in a cool and airy environment. When the leaves appear completely dehydrated it is possible to arrange them in bags or containers with hermetic closure.
For freezing, the freshly picked leaves can be closed in special kitchen bags for the freezer and placed in the freezer.
Although the second method is preferable to the first, in both cases the leaves will lose most of their aroma.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.