Angelica is known by many names: Root of the Holy Ghost, Garden angelica, Wild celery, and Norwegian angelica.
Angelica got its name from a legend about a monk who was informed by the archangel Michael that this particular plant could help cure the plague.
Angelica grows wild in Northern Europe and thrives in cold climates. It is cultivated in many countries.
It is a biennial herb.
Angelica has a thick hollow stem and grows quite tall. It is 1- 2.5 meters (3- 8 feet) tall.
Angelica has large umbels of yellow flowers from late spring to summer. This plant likes shade best.
The root is dug up during the fall. It is dried and then stored in airtight containers. The plant produces flowering umbels the second year.
Parts of the plant used: leaves, stems, roots, seeds and oil.
The root, stem, leaves and seeds are all edible and have been used in cooking since the Viking ages. Stems are great for eating steamed. They are peeled before slicing and used much like rhubarb.
Leaves (dried or fresh) can all be used to make tea. Many also use the root to make tea.
Candied angelica tastes awesome. Why not try to make your own candied angelica? The stems have been eaten as a sweet treat for centuries.
Angelica can be used in similar ways as one would use ginger. Dried roots are often grounded and used as a spice.
Roots are also cooked in water (add a pinch of salt to the water) until tender. The cooked roots taste great served with fish.
The stems can be used to make jam often combined with rhubarb.
Angelica is used as a spice in many types of liquor. It is said to be one of the many herbs in the liquor called Chartreuse.
Now angelica is mostly used as a spice.
Angelica is a warming herb. Hot tea helps ease the discomforts of colds, sore throats and fever.
Angelica stimulates digestion and is used to relieve the distress of wind and colic.
Another benefit is that it can reduce the yearning for alcohol when taken regularly. That should be good news for anyone feeling they consume too much alcohol.
This herb is also said to help regulate menstrual cycles and assist to relieve pains and cramps during the menstruation and PMS.
Angelica is a cleansing herb. It supports detoxification and strengthens immunity.
The herb helps increase the blood flow. It is good for people with high blood pressure.
People with a diabetes diagnose need to warned that this root increases the sugar level in the blood.
Pregnant women should not eat large quantities of angelica and fresh roots should be avoided as it may cause photosensitivity.
If you plan to harvest wild angelica, you need to be very sure to select the correct plant. The plant cowbane (cicuta virosa) resembles angelica. Be warned: cowbane is extremely poisonous. Conium is another plant similar to angelica. Conium is also very poisonous.
History and Folklore
It was his opinion that angelica was one of the best remedies to treat plague epidemics. As late as 1919 many were known to chew angelica to ward off the Spanish flu. Angelica is mentioned in Heimskringla (King’s Saga) written by Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241).
King Olaf I Tryggvason of Norway (963-1000) is desperate to please his wife Thyri and offers her a stick of angelica.
During the Second World War some used angelica root as a tobacco substitute. It was believed that this plant would protect against all evil and was a cure for most all ills.
Eating the leaves was recommended to calm the nerves.
In superstition it was believed in Europe that a piece of angelica root worn close to the body would protect against witchcraft and malicious curses.
Angelica root was used as an auspicious amulet when hunting. The angelica amulet was not only useful when hunting. The amulet was also a tool used by the superstitious to make oneself attractive to the opposite sex.
Furthermore you could hide some angelica under the sheets in the bed. This would take the lovemaking to new levels and all infidelity would be forgotten.
Another widely accepted belief was that eating angelica would help cure impotence and enrich the love life. Maybe this is one of the reasons it became so popular during the Middle Ages? The hollow stem of angelica has also been used to make a homemade flute.