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Garden Angelica

Angelica archangelica ssp. archangelica

  • Name also: Norwegian Angelica
  • Family: Carrot Family – Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
  • Growing form: Perennial, once-flowering herb.
  • Height: 50–150 cm (20–60 in.). Stem glossy, glabrous, lower part purple, hollow, joints with septa.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), white–reddish–greenish white, 4–5 mm (0.16–0.2 in.) wide; petals 5, notched, tip recurved. Sepals vestigial. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels, styles 2. Inflorescence a compound umbel, secondary umbels 20–40, globose, stalks hairy–quite glabrous. Primary umbel’s 1–3 bracts falling early, secondary umbels’ bracteoles linear, descending oblique, same length as flower-stalks.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked, sheath large and oval. Blade triangular, 2–3 times pinnate. Leaflets decurrent, with toothed margins–lobed, terminal leaflet 3-lobed.
  • Fruit: Long, flat-backed, 2-sectioned, edges thin-winged, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.32 in.) long schizocarp with pleasant fragrance.
  • Habitat: Hedgerows, stream banks, river banks, springs, broad-leaved forests, especially in fell areas. Also cultivated.
  • Flowering time: July–August.
  • Endangerment: Protected in Finland south of the province of Oulu.

Many Carrot family plants have Finnish names that refer to animals, which demonstrates the low regard they have been held in, or the outright antipathy that has been felt for them. Garden angelica is a northern delicacy for reindeer and bears, but people also like the taste and in Lapland they are named accordingly. According to legend Archangel Rafael taught people how to use useful plants, and that is what its scientific name refers to. In Finland it is named after one of the country’s great mythological heroes.

Garden angelica has been believed to cure almost every ailment and malady. It had an especially good reputation for combating plague, but it was also good for stomach and lung problems, and attempts have been made to comfort broken-hearted lovers with its juice. Garden angelica’s roots can be used as seasoning, the leaves and young inflorescence make good vegetables, and jam and candies can be made from the sweet stem. The Vikings bred a cultivated variety of the plant which had full leaf-stalks and a milder flavour. The species grows mainly in the north of Finland and has been Laplanders’ most important vegetable, even if it has not been specifically cultivated. Garden angelica is back in fashion again in e.g. Holland, where it is used as a vegetable and herb: oil that is extracted from the roots is used to flavour e.g. gin and sweets, and oil from the fruits is likewise used for vermouth and liqueurs. Cultivation has never really taken off in Finland, but trekkers in Lapland can use the young leaves straight from the plant.

Garden angelica is divided into two subspecies, true garden angelica (ssp. archangelica), which grows on the Lapland fells, and sea garden angelica (ssp. litoralis), which can be found in the Åland Islands and on the coastline of the Baltic Sea. The subspecies can be told apart by e.g. examining the umbel-stalks: on ssp. archangelica they are somewhat hairy but on ssp. litoralis they are glabrous. Wild angelica (A. sylvestris) differs with its cylindrical leaf-stalks and also in that its terminal leaflet is often lobed.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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