Growing and Using Angelica

Growing and Using Angelica
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Angelica Archangelica, also known as Archangelica officinalis, is a wonderfully grand heirloom herb that has a rich history. As the name implies it was considered an angelic herb in medieval times, capable of keeping away evil spirits and disease. Poets and writers considered the scent of angelica an inspiration. It was also used as a flavoring, and as a sweet garnish. This is truly an amazing historical herb.
Angelica is a biennial that grow up to 6 feet with large yellowish green flowers that are grouped into large global shaped umbels. The fragrance is sweet, and similar to anise or licorice. It's a striking plant that needs it's own space whether it's a corner of your herb garden, or the back of a border, but don't hide it since it is so unique. It has an almost frilly appearance with a fresh, green color that is ornamental in any location.

Angeliga is one of the herbs that really does better in a moist, shady position. It can grow well near water, but doesn't have to be in moist of a location to survive. It's a tough plant that can handle frost and some drought. Work the soil with compost and organic matter to loosen it up before planting. Angelica can be grown from seed, but it should be fresh. Plants are a good choice to get started too. Once it's settled in and happy, it will reseed. It's technically a biennial, but will sometimes survive 3-4 years. In that second year it can grow to six foot tall and four foot wide! If you allow it to self sow you'll always have it in your landscape.

What is angelica used for in modern day? Some herbalists do use it for medicinal treatments. The seeds can be chewed as a digestive aid, similar to fennel seeds. The stems can be cut and candied for an interesting treat. Harvest the stems in June if you'd like to try this.

Phyllis Shaudys gives a simple method in her book "The Pleasure of Herbs". Cut the stems into pieces 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. Simmer the stems in a syrup made with 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water for 20 minutes. Drain off the syrup and refrigerate the stems for 4 days. Reserve the syrup as well. Place the stems back in the syrup and cook again for 20 minutes at 238 degrees until the syrup candies. Drain and dry the stems before storing. She notes that sometimes a third simmering is necessary. The stems can be used as garnish on desserts.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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