sweet cicely sĭs´əlē [key], name for the European herb Myrrhis odorata and for closely related American and Asian plants of the genus Osmorhiza, all of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family). Both sweet cicely plants are fragrant perennials having aromatic, licorice-flavored roots, once considered medicinal. They resemble the poison and water hemlocks but are usually distinguishable by their elongated, rather than rounded, seedlike fruits. The European sweet cicely, sometimes called myrrh, was formerly used for salads and greens, and an oil to polish oak was extracted from the seeds. Sweet cicely is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Apiales, family Umbelliferae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Plants