Also, Known As:
- Amara Aromatica
- American Angelica
- Archangelica Officinalis
- Bellyache Root
- European Angelica
- Garden Angelica
- Herb Of The Angels
- High Angelica
- Holy Ghost Plant
- Holy Herb
- Purple Angelica
- Purplestem Angelica
- Root Of The Holy Ghost
- Wild Angelica
- Wild Parsnip
Angelica (botanical name Angelica archangelica) is generally a biennial plant that grows up to a height of anything from 3.3 feet (1 m) to 8.25 feet (2.5 m). This plant may bear flowers two times in a year or for four consecutive years provided the conditions are conducive. Angelica has a tall, purple-green stem that is hollow as well as branched. The leaves of this plant are slightly triangular in shape and are joined to the stem by means of an extended petiole. The flowers appear in clusters in a white-hued terminal umbel and have a sweet, pungent aroma. Angelica bears fruits that have a light yellowish complexion and which enclose seeds that are oval-shaped. The taproot of the plant is succulent – having a brown color on the exterior and white inside. The taproot also has little auxiliary roots.
The plant derives its name from the Medieval Latin ‘herba angelica’(“angelic herb”). It has been named so as it is believed that it possesses special attributes that cure plague and poisoning. Earlier, people thought that this herb protected them from infectious diseases, counting plague, bequeath a long life, keep enchantments and evil spirits at bay and also counteracted mad dog bites. Till recently (as late as the World War I) people munched the root of angelica believing that doing so would defend them from the widespread influenza epidemic prevailing worldwide at that time.
Even today, people value angelica primarily because it has an invigorating action on our digestive system. Since the colonial era, people have candied the fragrant and fairly sweet stems of the plant for delicious treats as well as for using them to decorate pastry. The leafstalks of angelica resemble that of celery and can be consumed raw or after cooking. The seeds and roots of the plant yield essential oils that are used in manufacturing perfumes and also for adding essence to vermouth, gin, as well as a variety of sweet alcoholic drinks (liqueurs), including Chartreuse.
Plant Part Used:
The whole plant.
Angelica offers a number of health benefits and, hence, is used to treat various health conditions. This herb warms up the body and also serves as a tonic. The entire angelica plant is used to provide relief from dyspepsia, stomach pain, and gas. In addition, this herb may also prove to be helpful in treating poor blood circulation, as it augments the flow of blood to the body’s peripheral regions. It is especially considered too useful for treating Buerger’s disease, a medical condition wherein the arteries in the legs and feet are constricted. As angelica enhances the blood circulation and promotes expulsion of phlegm, it is warming as well as tonic attributes provide relief to patients suffering from bronchitis and other chest conditions that make the sufferer weak. Generally, the roots of the herb are used to treat respiratory problems. However, sometimes the stems, as well as the seeds, may also be used to treat such conditions.
The stems, leaves, and seeds of angelica also have culinary uses.
The stem of this plant is steamed and buttered before serving it like asparagus. Sliced stems of angelica are also perfect for adding essence to roasted pork.
You may also chop the leaves of angelica and add them to rhubarb to make them sugary. In addition, the leaves of this plant are also an excellent add-on for salads, soups, herbal mixes as well as in cooking stock (bouillon) for shellfish and other fish.
You may also sweeten the tender stems of angelica and use them for garnishing desserts and cakes.
The herb can also be used to prepare a refreshing tea. Brew one teaspoonful (5 ml) of dried up herb or about three teaspoons (15 ml) of the crushed leaves of the plant in one cup (250 ml) of boiling water. Set it aside to infuse and then add lemon or honey to it for taste.
The seeds of angelica have a flavor akin to that of juniper and are occasionally used in place of actual juniper berries while making gin.
The eye-catching seed heads of the angelica are used in floral arrangements.
The Habitat of Angelica:
Angelica is native to Europe where it is found growing in damp, mountainous areas that have somewhat temperate climatic conditions. In the United States and Canada, angelica is found growing beside shaded streams as well as inside damp ditches. Often people mistake sweet flag (botanical name Acore calamus) or water hemlock (botanical name Cicuta maculata) to be angelica. However, these two species belong to different plant families.
Angelica naturally grows in damp areas. Hence, if you are cultivating this plant, ensure that the soil remains wet all through the growing season. It has a preference for a somewhat acidic soil and the suggested pH range is anything between 4.5 and 7.0. While angelica has a preference for partial shade, it can thrive in sunlight too, subject to the ground being properly mulched.
Angelica is propagated by means of its seeds, directly sown outdoors in spring immediately when the ground is prepared. In order to ensure proper germination, you should only use fresh seeds. Angelica dislikes being transplanted and, hence, you need to sow the seeds in their permanent positions outdoors.
If you are using purchased seeds, it may be necessary to refrigerate them for about four to five weeks before you sow them. In fact, seed suppliers having a good reputation will usually have seeds stored in refrigerators, so you do not need to refrigerate them again. If you are sowing the seeds during the fall, they would require the basic cold treatment throughout the winter months.
In order to germinate properly, angelica seeds need to be exposed to sunlight and, hence, cover them with a thin soil layer.
Alternately, you may also propagate angelica using its root cuttings. However, plants propagated from the seeds are regarded as superior. Maintain a space of about 0.6 m to 1 m (2 feet to 3 feet) between two plants to enable them to grow freely.
Generally, the flowering stalks of angelica emerge in the latter part of spring during the second year of the plant. If grown in areas having cooler climatic conditions, angelica will grow slowly and is unlikely to produce flowers until it has been in existence for three to four years.
Normally, the angelica plant dies soon after blossoming and producing seeds. However, getting rid of the flowering stalks prior to the seeding by the plant may possibly help it to live on for one or two more growing seasons. On the other hand, if the plants allowed seeding, they are likely to grow again on their own.
Angelica plants are vulnerable to crown rot (a fungal disease of plants marked by the rotting of the stem at the base) and also susceptible to invasion by aphids, earwigs, leaf miners and spider mites.
Angelica contains essential oil, valeric acid, iridoid psoralens. Seeds: furocoumarin. Roots: estrogens, tonics, organic acids, salt minerals (potassium, zinc), coumarin derivatives.
Decoction and Tincture:
Therapeutically, angelica is used in decoction and tincture forms.
Decoction: Prepare the decoction by adding one teaspoon of chopped roots of the plant to one cup (250 ml) of water and boil it for about two minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and set it aside for about 15 minutes to infuse. For best results, take this decoction three times daily.
Tincture: The standard dosage of angelica tincture is taking it in measures of 2 ml to 5 ml three times daily. […]