Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is an annual herb related to parsley. More delicate than parsley, it has a faint taste of licorice, and along with tarragon, chives and parsley it is part of the aromatic seasoning blend known as fines herbes. It’s also fun to say: “chervil, chervil, chervil!”
Native to Eastern Europe, chervil was spread by the Romans through most of Europe, where it is now naturalized, growing to a height of 1 to 2 feet. The leaves of chervil may be plain or curly, and resemble carrot tops.
Oddly, there is no mention of it repelling witches.
Chervil is sometimes used to repel slugs, however, and is said to sharpen the wit and restore youth (you’ll be witty and cute as you chase away the slugs with it).
Medicinally, chervil has a positive effect on the digestive system, is said to lower blood pressure, and eating an entire plant is supposed to cure hiccups (a two foot plant?!).
What’s in it?
The active constituents of chervil include its volatile oil, which smells like myrrh (the kind brought to the baby Jesus). Chervil is also a rich source of bioflavonoids, which aid the body in many ways, including immune system response and Vitamin C absorption. It’s high in calcium so you don’t want to offer it to small pets in unlimited quantities (if you can even find fresh chervil in America in the first place) but I am told that most small pets scarf this stuff up.
If you are a chervil-less American, you can brew a tea with dried chervil: pour a cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried chervil (or a tablespoon of fresh chopped chervil, for you lucky Europeans) and let steep for 20 minutes (be sure to cover steeping herbs when making tea, to keep the volatile oils in). Offer the cooled tea to your small pets. This cooled tea can also be used as an eye wash by dipping a cotton ball into the mixture and wiping your pet’s eyes with it to sooth minor irritations.
Offer fresh chervil to your pets: you’ll be rewarded with younger-looking, slug-free pets.
Best place to find fresh chervil in Dayton, Ohio: darned if I know. I’ve never seen chervil. We Americans will have to grow our own next spring.
Moe is a neutered 7 month old mini Rex. He is a cheerful, lively fellow, currently at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton awaiting his forever home. He is looking for a loving friend to take him home with them (chervil optional).
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