Archangelica officinalis Herb - Culinary / Medicinal
Angelica herb is a European immigrant, closely related to carrots and parsley and has been a medicinal and flavoring agent for centuries, it is used to flavor Gin and Vermouth, as well to make teas and season culinary delights. It is neither a perennial nor annual, but more correctly it is a biennial, as it grows for two seasons.
The leaves of the plant can be dried and are commonly used as a seasoning. The parachute shaped flowers are attractive but only bloom every other year. After blooming the plant frequently dies. The flowers are white and 'petal' carries a loosely attached seed. Angelica herb has a pungent aroma and sweet flavor that you may recognize if you're a gin drinker. All parts of the plant have a use - root, leaves and seeds. The Angelica root resembles a huge pale carrot and has multiple uses.
In its first season Angelica has a small stalk that reaches 1 to 3 feet in height. In its second year it fully forms and grows larger leaves and reaches up to 6 feet in height.
Angelica requires sufficient room as it can spread up to to 4 feet wide.
How to Plant Angelica
Angelica should be planted annually to ensure a continuous supply. It flowers in its second season and then dies, although some senior citizens in the angelicas have been known to hang on a few more years.
Grown from seed, Angelica isn't all too difficult to germinate, depending on the quality and variety of seed it should take no more than 3 weeks [21 to 28 days at 70 F] . Late summer or early fall is the best time to start it, but it can also be be started in the early spring.
Indoor pre season or early season seeding will not only help to improve the germination rate, but also the overall health and viability of the seedling.
Angelica plants should be set out when they exceed 3 inches in height, certainly no more than 4 at most.
They produce a very long taproot and transplant of larger plants can be difficult. Angelica can also be started from division of roots in early to mid spring.
Angelica does best in cool climates and a semi-shady location, not completely shaded, just semi shady . Grown in regions with hot summers, a shady location will provide protection for the blazing sun and heat, as it is a heat sensitive plant.
Moist fertile soils rich in organic matter are best. Angelica is not drought tolerant and should never be allowed to dry out. Nor should it be excessively watered , which promotes fungus and rots. Slightly acidic soil with a soil pH of 4.5 to 7.0 is optimal.
Moist well drained soil, no excessive heat or light exposure, diligent weeding, modest fertilizing - so long as the soil pH is maintained with the recommended parameters and you should be just fine with your angelica plants.
Trim the stalk towards the end of the first season to promote flowering in the second.
Ocassionally Aphids, spider mites or leaf miners. Insecticidal soap will control them all.
You can harvest Angelica leaves at any time you'd like during the growing season.
The seeds are normally green while maturing and should be harvested only when they turn yellow. Once ripe and yellow they drop from the plant easily. It is advisable to place the seed heads into a bag , so they will fall into the bag when harvested without loss of seeds.
The root should be harvested in the autumn of the plant's first year, after that it gets woody and harsh and looses it's value.
Storage and Preservation
Angelica seeds roots and leaves can be dried by hanging upside down in a warm dry area
The use of electric dehydrators is not recommended. Sun drying will work for the seeds, but is not advisable for the roots and leaves.