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Lovage

( Originally Published 1933 )



LEVISTICUM OFFICINALIS, KOCH.

Umbelli f erae Perennial

Lovage is native to Europe, and according to Vilmorin the whole plant has a sweetish aromatic odor, which it did not have in my garden.

Root. It has a taproot.

Stem. The stems are very tall, rigid, and fleshy. They taste pleasant, a little bitter and of camphor, and resin when raw.

Leaf. The leaves are large, dark green, shiny, similar to those of celery and are divided in two or three divisions, and toothed. Each leaf division is two inches long, and one and one-quarter inches broad, sometimes much larger. The stems of the leaves are broader at the base, where they start and envelop the base of the stem.

Flower. The yellow flowers are in umbels.

Seed. The seeds are highly aromatic, hollowed and with three prominent ribs.

HISTORY AND LEGEND

It is mentioned by Pliny, and is in Stearns' "The American Herbal," 1801.

USES

Medicine. The roots are used as a drug. The seeds were formerly used medicinally. In cases of sore mouth or throat, the Pennsylvania Germans use the hollow stems as a tube through which to drink water or milk.

Perfume. The flowering tops yield a volatile oil which Poucher says has a limited use, in a few tobacco flavors.

Food. The young stems are treated like those of angelica. The leafstalks and bases of the stems are blanched like celery and eaten as a salad. The seeds flavor confectionery.

CULTURE

It is propagated by seeds. Some say to plant them immediately upon ripening, and others that they are fresh until they are three years old. They are usually sown late in summer and the seedlings transplanted in the fall or early spring. Until germination, the ground for the seedlings should be kept moist. The plants like a rich, moist soil, and last for several years if cultivated, like angelica.



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