Angelica an angelic herb

The wild angelica,Angelica sylvestris, is a late flowering member of the parsley family Apicaceae, formerly the Umbelliferae, may be best identified by its stout stems distinctive foliage and large domed shaped flower heads. These umbels are often tinged with pink.

Angelica flowers later than the common hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, but during July and August the flowering period of the two species may overlap, and where they dwell together may cause confusion especially from a distance.. However, closer observation will reveal significant differences between the two species, with the help of photographs the differences will be more easily observed.

Let us start with the obvious features such as the foliage. Those of the common hogweed {see link to The Hogweed}  have coarsely divided wide lobes while those of the angelica have neat leaflets, they are airy, and the whole leaf is triangular in outline. They both have inflated sheaths were the leaf stalk joins the stem.

 Below bottom the coarsely lobed leaves of this young hogweed are quite different from those of Angelica. .Below top the sheath and stem of angelica.

photographs by Dal

flower heads

Next we look at the umbels{flower heads} . Those of the common hogweed are flat like a table top. The individual flowers that make up the flower head are larger on the outside than those in the middle. The petals are of a dull white colour. Those of the angelica compose a flower head that is rounded or domed shaped. often the flowers have a pink hue about them.

BELOW Top---The flattish flower  heads of the common hogweed. Bottom--- the more rounded or domed flower heads of Angelica

Photographs by Dal

Medicinal and culinary uses of Angelica.

The cultivated species or garden angelica Angelica archangelica has long been cultivated for its medicinal purposes. the roots and seeds being the main components of such use. The stems and seeds have been employed in the preparation of liqueurs. The dried foliage has aromatic qualities and have been added to herbal beers.

Below the components of Angelica. Courtesy of Kurt Stuber.

Illustration Angelica silvestris0.jpg

Wildlife and countryside act states----

It would be prudent to point out at this stage that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that it is illegal to dig up or up root any wild plant, unless you have the express permission of the landowner on who's land it grows. However, garden angelica can be used in any way one sees fit for such purposes.

It is recommended that the root is dug up in the autumn of its first years growth when they are considered to be at their best. they must be dried rapidly and placed into an air tight container. Studies have revealed that roots treated in this manner will be viable for use for many years. Thick roots should be sliced sideways to help aid the drying process.

Stems should be cut about June or July for the purposes of being candied. This is also done on a commercial scale  to produce cake decorations for confectionery products.

Angelica has properties which are said to be calming,diaphoretic, stomatic,tonic and expectorant. It was regarded as being good to counteract the symptoms of colds and flu. cholic,pleurisy, and infections of the urinary organs. Modern day science seems to dispute some of its medicinal virtues. For instance the use of seeds and foliage is unapproved. It also gives the following warning. Pregnancy---there are documented adverse affects avoid the use of angelica. Diabetics should not take angelica it raises the blood sugar levels. Angelica should not be used with any warfarin medication.

Angelica is a member of the parsley family which includes some very poisonous plants. see link WILD HERB ADVISE.

Components of cultivated angelica

Image courtesy of the BHL {from Prof.Dr Thome's flora}

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Cow Parsley


Giant Hogweed.

Poisonous plants-2 {hemlock}

poisonous plants-3 { hemlock water dropwort}

Goutweed/ground elder.

Fools parsely.



Basic plant biology 1-2-3-4


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