What is chervil?

Chervil or French parsley (genus Anthriscus and species cerefolium ) – in English “French parsley” – is an aromatic vegetable whose fresh leaves are used as a spice or garnish in cooking, or as a remedy in folk medicine.

Chervil has an annual life cycle and grows quite easily throughout the temperate boreal belt. At first glance it is often confused with local parsley ( Petroselinum crispum ) – from the same biological family (Apiaceae).

Did you know that…

The name “chervil” is of Anglo-Norman origin, from the Latin “chaerephylla” or “choerephyllum”, and even earlier from the ancient Greek “χαιρέφυλλ& omicron ;ν” (chairephyllon) – which means “leaves of joy”.

French parsley has a chemical composition that does not differ much from the average of fresh aromatic herbs . However, it must be noted that, on the daily balance, being used in very limited quantities, it has an almost negligible nutritional impact. It has no major dietary contraindications , but the possibility of an allergic reaction must be taken into account .

Chervil is used as a condiment, especially in recipes with a delicate flavour , and is a fundamental ingredient of the “fines herbes” – a typical French herb mixture.

Nutritional properties

Nutritional properties of chervil

Attention! The detail of the chemical composition available in the table refers to the powder of dried chervil leaves; it should concern Anthriscus cerefolium but, for the sake of correctness, we specify that the botanical species is not mentioned in the reference table.

Fresh chervil leaves – hereinafter simply called “chervil” – are a spice, more precisely an aromatic herb, pertaining to the VI and VII fundamental groups of foods . However, it should be specified that its limited use – portions of very few grams – nullifies any impact on the definitive nutritional balance .

Chervil has a low energy content , supplied mainly by soluble carbohydrates , followed by proteins of low biological value and finally by a few predominantly unsaturated fatty acids – with notable importance of polyunsaturated ones . Water and dietary fiber play a decisive role in total mass. On the contrary, cholesterol is absent while small concentrations of phytosterols and other purely vegetal elements appear – for example polyphenols and chlorophyll .

Chervil is gluten and lactose free . Histamine is irrelevant , as are purines and the amino acid phenylalanine .

Regarding mineral salts , chervil provides fair quantities of potassium and magnesium . If they had good bioavailability, the levels of iron and calcium would also not be completely negligible . On the other hand iron is present in a biologically inactive form and calcium probably remains largely chelated by anti-nutritional agents such as oxalic acid .

Among the most present vitamins, retinol equivalents (RAE) certainly stand out – more precisely carotenoids ( provitamin A ) – ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and folates. Let us remember that the latter two are significantly affected by possible cooking .

Editorial board

Chervil Leaves, Dry Values ​​per 100 g
Power 237.0 kcal
TOT carbohydrates 49.1g
of which soluble sugars – g
Fibers 11.3g
TOT fats 3.9g
of which saturated fatty acids 0.169g
of which monounsaturated fatty acids 1,399g
of which polyunsaturated fatty acids 1,800g
Proteins 23.2g
Thiamine (vit B1) 0.380 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.680 mg
Niacin ( vit PP ) 5.4 mg
Pantothenic acid (vit B5) – mg
Pyridoxine ( vit B6 ) 0.93 mg
Folate , DFE 274.0 mcg
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 50.0 mg
Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) – mg
Vitamin A – RAE 293.0 mcg
Soccer 1346.0 mg
Iron 31.95 mg
Magnesium 130.0 mg
Manganese – mg
Phosphorus 450.0 mg
Potassium 4740.0 mg
Zinc 8.8 mg
Sodium 83.0 mg
Waterfall 4.26g


Chervil in the diet

Chervil has no major dietary implications. It is suitable for most diets, both for healthy subjects and for those affected by metabolic diseases – diabetes mellitus , dyslipidemia , arterial hypertension , etc. It has no contraindications in the treatment of food intolerances such as celiac disease , lactose and histamine intolerance, nor hyperuricemia and phenylketonuria . It cannot be ruled out that it may trigger allergic reactions in hypersensitive people.

Despite the richness of water, dietary fibre, mineral salts and vitamins , the average portion of chervil – just a few grams – is so low that it has no real impact on the final nutritional balance.


Chervil in folk medicine

Especially in the past, chervil was often used as a remedy in folk medicine. Its medicinal capabilities, if taken internally, would be:

  • Digestive
  • Hypotensive
  • Against hiccups
  • Mild stimulant.

More recently, some suggest chervil to combat water retention .

Fresh chervil juice applied topically is used against gout , abscesses and in the treatment of dermatological manifestations, for example “berloque dermatitis” or “margarita photodermatitis” – which typically affects gardeners. Other plants in the Apiaceae family can have similar effects.

Note : At the moment we do not have sufficiently accurate information to understand how and to what extent chervil could work.


How is chervil used in cooking?

Chervil is used extensively in France, as a herb or spice, to season poultry, seafood , fresh vegetables , soups and sauces. Similar but more delicate than parsley, it has a faint aftertaste of liquorice and anise .

Chervil is one of the four traditional French herbs, together with tarragon , chives and parsley, essential for the “fines herbes” – traditional seasoning. Unlike more intense and robust spices, such as bay leaves , thyme , rosemary , oregano and marjoram , which can withstand even prolonged cooking , fines herbes are added only at the last minute – in salads , on omelettes and in soups.


Brief description of the chervil

Chervil is a bright light green herbaceous plant. It has alternate triple-seven leaves with a slightly curled edge; it produces white flowers grouped in umbels with a diameter of 2.5-5 cm, which evolve into thin seeds 1 cm long and black in colour. The root is long and taproot. Chervil reaches 40-70 cm in height and 15-30 cm in width.

Of popular use, especially in France, this aromatic must not be confused with other similar plants or those that mistakenly bear the same name. The similarity that most often misleads consumers is that between chervil and common parsley ( P. crispum ), but it is not uncommon for it to also be confused with Chaerophyllum bulbosum (of which the root is consumed).


Notes on chervil botany

Chervil is a vegetable native to the Caucasus. From here, the Roman legionaries spread it throughout Europe, where it is now totally naturalised. It is a rustic plant and grows in various types of soil, with good humidity and not excessive temperatures, positioned in the shade or with partial exposure – it matures quickly in the sun, producing seeds. It is easily cultivated throughout the temperate boreal climate zone.


Some claim that snails are strongly attracted to chervil and therefore, using this plant, it is possible to bring them out into the open.

Chervil is usually grown in the cold season , similarly to lettuce , radicchio , chicory and cabbage, it should be planted in early spring or late autumn; in the middle of winter, it requires confinement in a greenhouse.

Regularly harvesting the tops and leaves delays their maturation into seed. If this were to happen anyway, it is advisable to let the plant finish the cycle to use its seeds.