Chervil – characteristics, cultivation and use

Wild chervil
Wild chervil

Chervil is a culinary herb that is often grown in gardens. Its fine-grained leaves taste like a mixture of parsley and anise. Besides its fine aroma, the herb also has a certain healing effect. It can relieve colds and it can be used for headaches and memory problems. It is best used fresh in salads or herbal quarks.

Profile of chervil:

Scientific name: Anthriscus cerefolium var. cerefolium

Plant family: umbellifer (Apiaceae)

Other names: French parsley, garden chervil

Sowing time / Planting time: March – April

Flowering period: June – August

Harvest time: May – September

Useful plant parts: leaves, shoots

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: well-drained and humus-rich soil

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: cold, headache, stress, wound treatment

Use as aromatic herb: quark, herb butter, soups, sauces, fish, vegetable dishes

Chervil flowering
Chervil flowering

Plant characteristics and classification of chervil

Origin and occurrence of chervil

Chervil is originally from Eastern Europe and was brought mainly from the Caucasian countries and the eastern Mediterranean countries (Turkey, Syria) to Western and Central Europe. Since the ancient Romans and Greeks knew the herb well and used it for seasoning food, it is now believed that the Romans brought the plant from the Mediterranean to us.

Wild chervil can be found especially in open locations, especially on forest edges or sparse forests, as a pioneer plant on brownfield. Also in the mountains it can be found up to 2,000 m (6,561.68 feet) altitude.

Plant order of chervil

Chervil belongs to the plant family of umbellifer (Apiaceae) and is closely related to other kitchen and medicinal herbs such as anise, dill or parsley. The genus chervil (Anthriscus) belong to a total of nine species, these include among others the burr chervil (Anthriscus caucalis) as well as the wild chervil or cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris).

There are several subspecies of the genuine chervil. This is subdivided into a wild form (Anthriscus cerefolium var. Trichocarpa) and into a cultivated form (Anthriscus cerefolium var. Cerefolium). The wild form is hardly distinguishable from the cultivated form. Only on the basis of the slightly curved bristles on the fruits, the wild form can be clearly seen.

Characteristics of chervil


Chervil reaches stature heights between 25 and 80 cm (10 and 31 in). The herb is annual, persistent and frost hardy. It forms flat, mostly brown roots, which have numerous fine root hairs.


The leaves are reminiscent of ferns.

On the multi-feathered, triangular leaves, which are sawn at the end, one recognizes the close relationship to the parsley and carrot. The soft, light to medium green leaves are bald on the top and bristly hairy on the nerves of the underside. The shoot axis is tubby and has a fine rill. Its stems sometimes show distinct nodes with fine glandular hairs.


The white flowers are arranged in so-called double umbels. The flowering period is usually expected between late May to early August. With the flower chervil loses its spice power.


The fruits of chervil are typical schizocarps, which can grow up to 1 cm (0.39 in) long and come with a light to dark brown color. The fruits are always in two parts and elongated. They sometimes remind of the shape of wild rice.

Leaves of chervil
Leaves of chervil

Chervil – cultivating and care


Chervil is a pretty all-rounder in terms of location requirements. It tolerates both sunny locations and partial shade. Full sun is to be avoided, however, as the small and thin leaves otherwise tend to burn. Since sun and dryness allow the herb to bloom quickly and thus reduce its spiciness, a partially shaded location is more suitable.


The soil should be permeable, slightly moist and well humus. Before sowing or planting, the soil can be mixed with compost.


Chervil needs light to germ. When sowing, care should be taken that the seeds are only slightly pressed and not covered with soil. Likewise, the herb needs cold to germ, in which a cold period of about 10 ° C (50 ° F) for 4 to 6 days is needed. After sowing, the soil should be kept evenly moist, but not too moist. Too dry soil in combination with high heat tolerates the plant only badly. Insofar as the soil is too loamy or too dense, the loosening with quartz sand, lavagrass (small grain size) or perlites is recommended.


The herb should not be replanted after sowing because it is a true-to-life plant with a very fine root system. Chervil mostly reproduces by itself. The best time for sowing is the months March to April. However, sowing can be extended to the early summer months. Usually, the first leaves can be harvested after 6 to 8 weeks. When planting, it must be ensured that the plants are at least 15 cm (6 in) at a distance, otherwise there is a risk of stress and food competition.

Chervil is a good companion in the garden, as it is able to fend off various types of louse and mildew. Where it grows, it should also protect from snails. If you sow it between lettuce plants, the herb protects those against lice, ants and snails because of its aroma.


Chervil can be harvested continuously until the beginning of flowering six to eight weeks after sowing. Always pick only the tender, young leaves before flowering. They have the most spice power.


Chervil usually needs no additional nutrients, as it grows in the field. Large additions of fertilizer should be avoided. From time to time, smaller amounts of compost can be mixed in the soil. Also, small amounts of weak organic fertilizers such as horse manure or cattle manure can be used.


Chervil always needs a slightly moist soil. Especially on hot days without precipitation a continuous water supply should be taken care of. Waterlogging should be avoided, as otherwise the roots can rot.

Pests and diseases

Especially in damp and cool weather and waterlogging, wilting or root rot can occur as fungal diseases. While wilting shows up brownish and decaying roots and the lateral roots die off, root rot can be recognized by a spiderweb-like, white, later brown coating on the stem ground. Preventively maintain the cultivation periods of three years and avoid waterlogging and soil compaction. In addition, powdery mildew can occur, which shows through brown to black spots on pinnules and stems. Later, the leaves turn yellow and die. As a preventive measure, you should ensure loose stocks. As pests, aphids can occur on the chervil. Helpful measures: Sow late and use Neem preparations against the animal pests if necessary. You can also make a swill from stinging-nettle.

More on Herbs as a miracle weapon against pests.

Use of chervil

Chervil is known to most people only as kitchen herb. However, the plant has especially been known in the Middle Ages as a medicinal plant. It is rarely used in today’s natural medicine.

Chervil as a kitchen herb

Chervil is a very popular culinary herb, which is mainly used for seasoning soups and sauces. It has a slightly peppery, sweet and very aromatic taste. Sometimes it reminds of a mixture of fennel, anise and parsley.

Chervil is also an excellent herb for the refinement of dairy products such as quarks, cream cheese or herb butter. The herb is often used in conjunction with parsley or tarragon. Known dishes for which the herbs are cream soup and crepes.

Fresh, young shoots and leaves of chervil taste best. The herb loses its aroma after flowering. For a pure taste, the herb should therefore always be picked before flowering. Dried and heated chervil also loses its aroma. The best storage form is to freeze the herb. When used in sauces and soups, it should always be added at the end and never cooked.

Preparation of a chervil tea

  • put a teaspoon of fresh or dried chopped chervil leaves in a cup
  • dash with hot water
  • let brew for about ten minutes.
  • after straining, sip one to two cups during the day

This tea purges, has a water-drenching effect and purifies the blood. It also relieves cold-related cough.


Chervil as a medicinal herb

Chervil is rarely noticed as a medicinal herb in modern medicine. In some natural medical works, however, it this said to have a vitalizing and blood-thinning effect. Some sources recommend chervil for the relief of cold symptoms.

Already in the Middle Ages, the chervil e hermoved into monastic gardens. It was occasionally used to relieve pain, menstrual cramps and treat roundworm. Also, it was probably used for the wound treatment of bites.

Chervil can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • abscesses
  • cold
  • blemished skin
  • edema
  • eczema
  • fever
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • memory disorders
  • tophi

Medicinal properties

  • blood purifier
  • diuretic
  • expectorant
  • sweaty
  • toning

Side effects

Do not consume raw chervil in large quantities, because it can cause an inflammatory reaction of the skin that is directly caused by the active ingredient. However, the use in normal doses and as a spice herb is without hesitation.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy chervil – What is there to pay attention to?

Chervil can be found in supermarkets or plant markets. The quality varies greatly depending on the retail chain and growing area. When buying examine the plant properly and check whether the ratio of plant size and leaves fit together well. Fast-bred plants are usually tall, but have hardly any leaf mass. At best, taste a small leaf to ensure that the flavor meets your quality standards.

Seeds and fresh plants are offered by many seed producers or you can buy them in plant markets or from online traders.

Some manufacturers also offer dried chervil. But it looses its flavor when dried, so be sure to purchase only freeze-dried herbs. Also, make sure that the packaging is flavor-sealed. Freeze-dried chervil usually has a slightly more intense green color than normal-dried.

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