Sweet cicely, Myrrhis odorata

Life Cycle



Reproduces by seed.


Fuzzy stems covered in whitish hairs, with ridges that run lengthwise. Variable in colour.


Lacy, ferny, finely lobed or toothed leaflets. Bright, clear green with whitish undersides. Leafstalks wrap around the stem of the plant. Alternate leaf orientation, toothed and compound or divided.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowerheads are umbrella-shaped and individual flowers are tiny and white. Seeds are slender, hard and dark-brown.

Often Mistaken For

Due to lacey leaves and umbrella-like white flowerheads, sweet cicely can be mistaken for wild carrot or wild chervil. However, sweet cicely smells like licorice and has a sweet flavour, similar to anise. Sweet cicely has fuzzy stems and leaves and hard, dark and shiny seeds.

Figure #1.

Young and small sweet cicely plants.

Figure #2.

Lacy leaf of sweet cicely.

Figure #3.

Lacy, green leaves of sweet cicely. Fine, white hairs on stem.

Figure #4.

Green stem of sweet cicely with lengthwise ridges. Stem is variable in colour.

Figure #5.

Brown or red-purple stem of sweet cicely. Stem is variable in colour.

Figure #6.

Slender, hard and shiny dark brown seeds.

Figure #7.

Sweet cicely gone to seed in old field, early August in Central Ontario.