Growing Herbs

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How to Grow Angelica (angelica archangelica)

  • Plant: biennial
  • Height: 1-1.5m
  • Soil: moist, slightly acid Exposure: semi-shade
  • Propagation: seeds
  • Uses: culinary

How to Grow ANGELICA (Angelica archangelica)Although angelica is a biennial herb-growing the first year and flowering the second-it will continue to live for several more years if you clip off the flower stems before they bloom. The yellowish green, tropical looking leaves are large, becoming about 0.7-1m long, and are divided into 3 leaflets with toothed edges. Greenish white flowers bloom in umbrella like clusters at the ends of the bloom stalks which are 1-1.5m tall, hollow, and stiff.

As the name implies, angelica has religious associations. It is said that an angel presented the plant to man as a cure for the plague, and 15th and 16th century herbalists recommended eating or chewing the roots as a cure for a number of diseases. It was also believed that angelica would protect against witchcraft and evil spells. In Lapland and parts of Germany, angelica is often carried in processions while a verse is sung whose origins are pre-Christian and so old that the participants do not know its entire meaning.

Angelica likes moist, rich soil that is slightly acid, growing best in semi-shade. It can be grown from seeds, but they must be sown within a few weeks after ripening or they lose their ability to germinate. If you allow seeds to ripen on the stems, they will self sow readily. You also can propagate angelica from root cuttings.

The roots, leaves, and stalks of angelica have a number of uses. The stems can be candied and used to decorate cakes and pastries, and can also be jellied. You can even eat the boiled roots and stems like celery. The seeds and an oil made from the stems and roots are used as a flavouring in many liqueurs such as vermouth, chartreuse, and Benedictine, and the seeds also can be brewed into a tea.

Harvest the stalks in the second season and the seeds as soon as they are ripe.

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