Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb angelica are Amara Aromatica,American Angelica,Archangelica Officinalis,Bellyache Root, European Angelica, Garden Angelica,Goutweed,Herb Of The Angels, High Angelica, Holy Ghost Plant, Holy Herb,Masterwort,Purple Angelica,Purplestem Angelica, Root Of The Holy Ghost, Wild Angelica and Wild Parsnip.
The name angelica derives from the Medieval Latin herba angelica, "angelic herb," so called from its supposed special powers against poison and plague. Legends say that angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the deadly bubonic plague. In China, angelica has been used for several thousand years to treat many kinds of female problems. In traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is often referred to as the "female ginseng." Angelica has been used for centuries as a medicinal and culinary herb. The root's scent attracts deer and fish; it was used by European and North American Hunters.
There is not a large market for this plant, the majority of angelica grown is used to produce essential oil.Parkinson, in his Paradise in Sole, 1629, puts Angelica in the forefront of all medicinal plants, and it holds almost as high a place among village herbalists. This large variety, Angelica Archangelica also known as Archangelica officinalis, is grown abundantly near London in moist fields, for the use of its candied stems. It is largely cultivated for medicinal purposes and the roots are also imported from Spain.
Angelica is a tall, stout very ornamental and aromatic plant with large white flowers, growing to a height of 4 to 6 feet or more. It has a smooth, dark purple, hollow stem 1 to 2 inches round. The leaves are dark green, divided into three parts, each of which is again divided into three serrated leaflets, sometimes lobed.
The lower leaves are larger sometimes 2 feet wide. Angelica leaves have flattened, inward curved, stalks with clasping bases or sheathing to form an elongated bowl which holds water. The root is branched, from 3 to 6 inches long, thick and fleshy with several small rootlets. Flowers are small and numerous, yellowish or greenish-white and grouped into large, compound umbels. The flowers bloom in July and are succeeded by pale yellow, oblong fruits, 1/6 to a 1/4 inch in length when ripe produced in somewhat rounds heads, which sometimes are 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
Angelica is more naturalized in Britain. Angelica is believed to be a native of Syria from where it has spread to many cool European countries. It is occasionally found native in cold and moist places in Scotland, but is more abundant in countries further north, as in Lapland and Iceland.
Angelica thrives best in a damp soil and loves to grow near running water, in woodland, dappled shade, shady edge. Although the natural habitat is in damp soil and in open quarters, yet it can withstand adverse environment wonderfully well, and even endure severe winter frost without harm.
Angelica is naturally adapted to wet areas, so keep the soil moist throughout the growing season. Slightly acidic soil is best. Recommended pH range is 4.5 to 7.0.Prefers light shade, but will grow in sun, providing the ground is well mulched. Plant seeds outdoors as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Seeds must be fresh in order to germinate. As angelica does not transplant well, sow the seeds where you want the plants to grow. Purchased seeds may require refrigeration for 4 to 5 weeks prior to planting. Seeds sown in the fall will receive the necessary cold treatment during the winter. Seeds need exposure to sunlight to germinate, so cover with a very fine layer of soil. Angelica can also be propagated from root cuttings, but plants grown from seeds are considered superior. Space plants 0.6 to 1 m (2 to 3 feet) apart. Flower stalks usually develop in the late spring of the plant's second year. In cooler areas, where angelica grows slowly, it may not flower until the third or fourth year. Plant usually dies after it has flowered and seeded, but if you remove the flowering stalks before the plant seeds, it may survive for another couple of growing seasons. Plants left to go to seed may self-sow.
The germinating capacity of the seeds rapidly deteriorates; they should be sown as soon as ripe in August or early September. If kept till March, especially if stored in paper packets, their vitality is likely to be seriously impaired. In the autumn, the seeds may be sown where the plants are to remain, or preferably in a nursery bed, which as a rule will not need protection during the winter. A very slight covering of earth is best. Young seedlings, but not the old plants, are amenable to transplantation. The seedlings should be transplanted when still small, for their first summer's growth, to a distance of about 18 inches apart. In the autumn they can be removed to permanent quarters, the plants being then set 3 feet apart.
leaves and the seeds
are the most commonly used part of
the plant for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
The flowers which are small and numerous, yellowish or greenish in colour, grouped in large, globular umbels are in blossom in the month of July.
Pests and Diseases
Susceptible to crown rot, and to infestations of aphids, leaf miners, earwigs, and spider mites. Insects and garden pests do not attack the plant with much avidity: its worst enemy is a small two winged fly, of which the maggots are leaf miners, resembling those of the celery plant and of the spinach leaf.
• The stalks and roots candied and eaten fasting are good preservatives in time of infection, and will warm and comfort a cold stomach.
• Use for minor skin problems and for rheumatic pain.
• Angelica is used in the treatment of digestive disorders and problems with blood circulation.
• The fruit, leaf, and root of angelica stimulate digestion, help dispel gas and calm the nerves.
• Angelica is a good herb to add to treatments for colds, congestion and fevers.
• Angelica is a good remedy for colds, coughs, pleurisy, wind, colic, rheumatism and diseases of the urinary organs, though it should not be given to patients who have a tendency towards diabetes, as it causes an increase of sugar in the urine.
• For external use, the fresh leaves of the plant are crushed and applied as poultices in lung and chest diseases.
• Angelica can also be useful in cases of poor circulation since it improves blood flow to the peripheral parts of the body.
• It is often included in prescriptions for abnormal menstruation, suppressed menstrual flow, painful or difficult menstruation, and uterine bleeding.
• The stems and seeds for use in confectionery and flavouring and the preparation of liqueurs.
• The dried leaves, on account of their aromatic qualities, are used in the preparation of hop bitters.
• The stem is largely used in the preparation of preserved fruits and as an aromatic garnish by confectioners.
• The aromatic, naturally sweetish stems have been candied for tasty treats and used in pastry decorations.
• The celery like leafstalks can also be cooked or eaten raw, and essential oils distilled from the seeds and roots are used in perfumes and as flavorings for gin, vermouth, and various liqueurs such as Chartreuse.
• The attractive seed heads are used in floral arrangements.
• They are also used to sweeten tart fruits and to make jam.
• An essential oil is obtained from the root and seeds; it is used as food flavouring.