Who loves licorice? I do! I do!
Ever since I was a child, chewing on my parents’ fennel bushes, I’ve been enchanted by the sweet flavor of black licorice. It seems that this flavor is very much a matter of personal taste: some love it, others can’t stand it. I’m in the first club. Cilantro, now that’s another story.
While I can’t tell you how to grow red licorice (sorry, kids), I do have a list of lovely black licorice-flavored plants that you can grow in your garden. They’re all delicious when eaten fresh right out in the garden, or you can add them to teas, a salad, or even a dessert. Here are some sweet treats for you licorice lovers out there.
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Anise hyssop, or Licorice Mint is an amazing bee and butterfly plant, attracting these little pollinators into your garden. Like fennel, I like to eat the flowers raw. They are also great in fruit salads or teas. Use leaves as a seasoning in a sweet and sour salad. Add anise hyssop seeds to berry muffins with lavender for a fancy and sweet surprise.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Want a licorice scented garden as well? Grow Angelica, and its flowers will add a sweet smell to the garden. This medicinal plant is good for stomach troubles. Eat the roots, stalks, and leaves – they’re good in sweet soups and stews. Angelica loves damp, cool places.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
This is another shade lover. Both the leaves and flowers of chervil have a delicate licorice taste, good for those who like their licorice but don’t want it to dominate the flavor in a salad.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is delicious. Both the bulbs and the leaves are edible. They’re also very attractive to ladybug babies, which look like tiny alligators, so take a look before you graze. If you’d like some fennel for a stir fry, choose bulb fennel, also called Florence Fennel. This particular fennel has a larger base that is also licorice-flavored and can become a staple vegetable in sweet and sour stir fries. Other fennel is also good to eat in salads, and this delicate plant comes in a bronze variety as well – the perfect way to spice up a fall garden.
Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
I love this plant. It’s a staple in my somewhat shady garden, because it will grow well in dappled shade. Sweet cicely is an attractive plant, and it looks very much like a delicate fern. Its white flowers attract hoverflies, small bee-imitating pollinators that are wonderful beneficial insects in the garden. My daughter likes to eat this plant raw because it is quite sweet. You can also use it with rhubarb in pies and crumbles. It helps reduce the amount of sugar that you need to use to sweeten up the sour rhubarb stalks.
Do you eat other licorice-flavored plants? If so, please share – I’m always looking for more salad fixings and plants to nibble on in the garden.
Photo: (Featured Image): Fennel. Image Credit: AndyRobertsPhotos / CC by 2.0