Angelica blooms in late spring holding its delicate looking flower clusters atop stout hollow stems.
Angelica is a monocarpic plant, which means that it blooms just once, then dies. The term “biennial” was formerly used for plants that grew vegetatively the first year and flowered in the second year then died, but some plant species (and some individuals of other species) may grow for more than two years before flowering and dying, and so the term monocarpic (the opposite of polycarpic) is more inclusive. Angelica usually flowers in its second year, then dies.
Angelica, a member of the same family as parsley (Petroselinum crispum, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and carrots (Dauca carota) has several inflorescences, each composed of dozens of little greenish yellow flowers borne in clusters (umbels) that are rounded on top and some 6-10 in (15-25 cm) across. This is a robust plant with a thick, hollow stem to 6 ft (2 m) tall and more than an inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. The leaves are thrice-compound and fernlike, each about 2 ft (60 cm) long and composed of many serrate leaflets.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is native to northern Europe and Asia where it grows in low meadows, wetlands and damp woodlands, especially along streams.
Culture Light: Grow angelica in full sun to partial shade. Avoid full sun in the warmer climates. Angelica seems to do best in filtered shade. Moisture: Angelica likes a moist, fertile soil and should be watered during dry spells.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-8. Propagation: Seeds may be sown in situ or in containers. The seeds require light to germinate, so do not bury them, but just press them into the soil. Seeds do not store for long and should be planted as soon as they ripen. Transplant the seedlings while still small, as they do not abide by root disturbance. Angelica will self sow if the soil remains moist.
This patch of angelica has naturalized at the edge of a woodland in southern Ohio.
Angelica is a giant of an herb and a architectural stand out in the garden. This imposing plant can get over 5 ft (1.5 m) tall, branching several times, each branch terminating in a large greenish yellow inflorescence. The large flower heads are beautiful and when they go to seed, the seed heads are every bit as handsome. Use angelica as a flagship in the herb garden, or allow it to naturalize in a moist, semi-shaded woodland. The flowerheads can be used fresh or dry in arrangements, although they might be a little audacious to some.
Angelica (the name refers to its angelic healing properties) has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. It is said that all parts of the plant help to relieve indigestion, and also improve capillary blood flow. Extracts of the root are reported to have anti-inflammatory properties.
All parts of angelica are pleasantly aromatic. The leaves make a nice flavorful tea, said to have therapeutic properties. The leaves and very young stems are cooked like spinach or asparagus, often added to rhubarb to lessen its sourness. If you’re into candying, they say angelica stems and petioles make delicious crystallized confections. Honeybees are fond of the nectar produced by the long-blooming flowers.
If you remove the flowerheads before the seeds develop, angelica will flower again the following season, and with diligence, may be grown as a reliably returning perennial.