Herb Garden Plants – Angelica

Herb Garden Plants – Angelica

Angelica archangelica (Umbelliferae)


An imposing and dramatic plant which, given good growing conditions, attains up to 2 m (6ft 6in) in height, with large green/white mophead flowers held aloft. Good for the back of borders where they can be striking.


Angelica is a biennial plant, with a good clump of foliage forming in the first summer and dramatic flowers in the second, thereafter dying when the seed has set. By cutting back the growth in autumn/fall and preventing the flower heads from seeding, the plant can be maintained as a short-lived perennial.


Angelica is cultivated mainly for its green stems which can be candied and used in confectionery. A chunk or two cut at flowering time makes a good addition to stewed fruit, or it can be used in jam-making as a substitute for rhubarb.

Every part of angelica is useful. The dried root (when infused) makes a stimulating tonic reputed to encourage a dislike for alcohol. The ground roots are used for sachets, and oil derived from the root is used in liqueurs.

The juniper-flavored seed can be substituted for real juniper berries in the making of gin. Leaves are edible as a vegetable when cooked and served with butter, offering a spinach-like flavor.

Use leaves and stems in potpourri’s or as a bath additive. Angelica improves circulation and respiration and soothes digestion.


In the past, angelica was recommended for a wide range of ailments and legend tells us that in medieval times an angel ‘visited’ a monk, directing him to use this plant to alleviate the sufferings of victims of a plague  – hence the specific name archangelic.

Many herb garden information booklets aver that another derivative of the name may come from the fact that it comes into bloom close to the feast of the Archangel Michael. Whatever the provenance, it was used in religious rites for centuries.

Long revered in cold climes such as Lapland, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia. Possibly because it gives a sensation of heat when eaten.


Angelica seed deteriorates quickly, the result of which is a thin papery layer on the surface that has to be scraped off to allow the more nutritious seeds to be harvested.

Is Alternatively cultivated in a compost heap, as it does not need much sun.

If seedlings are to be used, they should be thinned to about one meter apart to make plentiful stems.


The seed is shed in the open ground in winter, covered in spring when the new sprouts start to appear and then discarded.

inary Uses:

if herb stains, flavorings, jellies, cakes, wines, and preserves.

Medicinal Uses:

scalloped in health for aids in respiratory disorders

flies for cleaning the palette

wards or coats to deflect flies

natures to catch the wind

A holy herb garden, purity by Way of the Highway

Another holy garden is made up of a low, wooden bridge with ‘asting’ spitters, a lantern made of a branch of Lightfoot straight into the middle of the road. The area is swept every evening and the next day is watered and left to desiccate.

Gardeners’ Calamities

‘ruffles’ is the most common word for angelica. It comes from the same French word as the verbiage, meaning ‘to ruffle’, because of the often saw-toothed shape of the leaves.

Angelica is still widely used in France and its rustic, herbalist roots appeal to the country’s traditional gardeners. Although the magic finger treatment no longer works, it is still used in poultices, to invigorate blood and wounds and in ailments of the heart.

The tall, majestic angelicas may look less appealing at a distance, but when that red-hot ember in your garden starts to pour it will be to your benefit to bend low and cover your face, so the cooler water doesn’t burn your face.

Sweaty palms will do well in the shade, so will the smaller cousins of the big-leaved angel’s likeness and cinema. Angelica is well known for its healing strengths. Apart from promoting blood circulation, it can also alleviate piles.

Tips for Garden Space

Don’t be afraid to use all the space you have available to create your herbal garden! A small four by six-foot space will accommodate a collection of small plants, enough for a small family. Incidentally, a ‘family’ of four includes an angel, a succulent, and a couple of the world’s most beautiful butterflies.