Plant World

Introduction and Historical Background

How have dill and anise been used throughout history?

Dill (Anethum graveolen) has long been used for medicinal purposes. The Egyptians used dill as a soothing medicine. Greeks habitually used the herb to cure the hiccups. During the Middle Ages dill was prized for the protection it purportedly provided against witchcraft. Magicians and alchemists used dill to concoct spells, while a commonly known wives’ tale stated that dill added to wine could enhance passion. Colonial settlers brought dill to North America, where it became known as “meetin’ seed” because children were given dill seed to chew during long sermons in church.

The Romans brought the licorice-flavored herb, anise (Pimpinella anisum) from Egypt to Europe, where they used it as payment for their taxes. It became a popular flavoring for cakes, cookies, bread, and candy.


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