(Archangelica officinalis, Hoffm.)
a biennial or perennial herb of the natural order Umbelliferae, so called from its supposed
medicinal qualities. It is believed to be a native of Syria, from
whence it has spread to many cool European climates, especially Lapland
and the Alps, where it has become naturalized.
Description. Its roots are long, spindle-shaped, fleshy, and sometimes
weigh three pounds; its stems stout, herbaceous, fluted, often more than
4 feet tall, and hollow; its leaves long-stalked, frequently 3 feet in
length, reddish purple at the clasping bases, and composed, in the
larger ones, of numerous small leaflets, in three principal groups,
which are each subdivided into three lesser groups; its flowers
yellowish or greenish, small and numerous, in large roundish umbels; its
seeds pale yellow, membranous-edged, oblong flattened on one side,
convex on the other, which is marked with three conspicuous ribs.
Cultivation. Since the seeds lose their vitality rapidly, rarely being
viable after the first year, they should be sown as soon as ripe in late
summer or early autumn, or not later than the following spring after
having been kept during the winter in a cold storeroom. The soil should
be moderately rich, rather light, deep, well drained, but moist and well
supplied with humus. It should be deeply prepared and kept loose and
open as long as tools can be used among the plants, which may be left to
care for themselves as soon as they shade the ground well.
In the autumn, the seeds may be sown where the plants are to remain or
preferably in a nursery bed, which usually does not need protection
during the winter. In the spring a mild hotbed, a cold frame or a
nursery bed in the garden may be used, according to the earliness of
planting. Half an inch is deep enough to cover the seeds. The seedlings
should be transplanted when still small for their first summer's growth,
a space of about 18 inches being allowed between them. In the autumn
they should be removed to permanent quarters, the plants being set 3
If well grown, the leaves may be cut for use during the summer after
transplanting; the plants may not, however, produce seed until the
following season. Unless seed is desired, the tops should be cut and
destroyed at or before flowering time, because, if this be not done, the
garden is apt to become overrun with angelica seedlings. If the seeds
are wanted, they should be gathered and treated as indicated on page 28.
After producing seed, the plants frequently die; but by cutting down the
tops when the flower heads first appear, and thus preventing the
formation of seed, the plants may continue for several years longer.
Uses. The stems and leaf stalks, while still succulent, are eaten as a
salad or are roasted or boiled like potatoes. In Europe, they are
frequently employed as a garnish or as an adjunct to dishes of meat and
fish. They are also largely used for making candied angelica. (See
below.) Formerly the stems were blanched like celery and were very
popular as a vegetable; now they are little used in the United States.
The tender leaves are often boiled and eaten as a substitute for
spinach. Less in America than in Europe, the seeds, which, like other
parts of the plant, are aromatic and bitterish, are used for flavoring
various beverages, cakes, and candies, especially "comfits." Oil of
angelica is obtained from the seeds by distillation with steam or
boiling water, the vapor being condensed and the oil separated by
gravity. It is also obtained in smaller quantity from the roots, 200
pounds of which, it is said, yield only about one pound of the oil. Like
the seeds, the oil is used for flavoring.
Angelica candied. Green says: The fresh roots, the tender stems, the
leaf stalks and the midribs of the leaves make a pleasing aromatic
candy. When fresh gathered the plant is rather too bitter for use. This
flavor may be reduced by boiling. The parts should first be sliced
lengthwise, to remove the pith. The length of time will depend somewhat
upon the thickness of the pieces. A few minutes is usually sufficient.
After removal and draining the pieces are put in a syrup of granulated
sugar and boiled till full candy density is reached. The kettle is then
removed from the fire and the contents allowed to cool. When almost cold
the pieces are to be taken out and allowed to dry.