Angelica

Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)

Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)

Family: Apiaceae

Genus: Angelica

This article focusses on two species of Angelica:

  • Garden Angelica, Echte Engelwurz, Holy Ghost root (Angelica archangelica)
  • Wild Angelica, Wald-Engelwurz (Angelica sylvestris) 

Related: Anethum, Anthriscus, Apium, Carum, Conium, Coriandrum, Cuminum, Daucus, Ferula, Foeniculum, Levisticum, Myrrhis, Pastinaca, Petroselinum, Peucedanum, Pimpinella  

Plant description: Biannual plant, native to Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus Mountains and Siberia. Grows up to 2 m tall and develops huge white flower umbels from July to September. Angelica sylvestris is the wild form, called Wald-Engelwurz in German. It served as vegetable in dire times and could be used medicinally similar to Angelica archangelica, since both have antibacterial and analgesic properties. The leaves, stems and root are used in decoctions and for flavoring dishes. From the flowers is derived a tasty syrup, the stems are candied and the oil won from the roots and seeds is part of Chartreuse liquor. Sami people make the fadno, a traditional reed instrument out of the 1 year old stems.

CAUTION: Angelica contains photo-toxic substances and can cause severe skin irritations!

Folklore: The aromatic sun and fire herb has a long tradition of usage as a medicinal “all-heal”. Originally called Kvann, it was well-known in Northern Europe, e.g. the Sami people and Vikings used it as a food source and for flavouring. Hence it is also known as “Norwegian Angelica”. After the introduction of christianity and the spreading of the black death in Europe, monastery monks claimed the archangel Michael had revealed to them the herb’s healing properties against the plague and it was renamed “Angelica”. Since then Angelica is associated with St. Michael, who replaced Thor of the old Norse religions. It is noteworthy that both are figures fighting the serpent at the end of time.

Magical uses: Angelica is a classic ingredient in rituals for cleansing and purifying, protection and expelling any negative influences. It protects the home and family. Though male in character, it is considered especially protective of women. It goes also by the name “Holy Ghost”. A wash of the smashed root dispels ghosts and evil spirits. A white pouch with seven Angelica leaves worn before the chest protects from unwanted love-spells.

Planet, Element: Sun, Fire

Medicinal uses: stomachic, stimulant, appetising, carminative, antimicrobial, digestive

Propagation and plant care: Cold germinator. Cold-stratification: put seeds in a wet paper towel and inside a zipper plastic bag. Store for 2-4 weeks at 18-20°C, then move to the fridge and keep at 0°C for 4-6 weeks. Or sow in autumn or early spring, either directly in the bed or in containers, which you keep outdoors. Use a mix of fresh seeding compost and sand, press seeds on soil and cover barely. Separate young plants, transfer into larger pots and plant outdoors in semi-shade, when strong enough. The soil should be moist and humus-rich. Remove the flowers before they produce seed and the plant will last longer.

Shop info: available are the dried root and seeds of Angelica archangelica, as well as seeds of Angelica sylvestris gathered from the wild. The latter smell very aromatic and can be added to incenses, oils or fragrant satchets.

Plant art:

Angelica

Angelica

References:

Copyright statement: all photos and art by Wiebke Rost. You are welcome to share, as long as credits are kept intact (e.g. include a link to this site). You may not alter or use any of the images without my written permission.

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