Plant Profile: Lovage

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Lovage is an edible, tall and erect, herbaceous perennial  plant that is one of the first to start poking through the ground in early April.  It belongs to the umbellifier family and can grow up to 2.5 meters tall.

The name lovage comes from the term “love-ache”, and ache is the medieval name for parsley.   Lovage is the genus Levisticum in the Apiaceae family.  It is sometimes called sea parsley.  It was ancient remedy for stomach upset and to aid digestion

lovage growing in the garden at

 I grow it as it is very tall and it hides sheds or fences or neighbours yards that you don’t want to see.  This plant was in the garden when we moved here 28 years ago.  It has been moved a few times and now grows happily on the hill garden beside the wooden composters. It prefers full sun to partial shade.

lovage growing in the garden at

Within about a week in May the plant went from just to the top of the wooden composted to well above it.  You can see the multi-branched umbels of tiny yellow flowers in late spring.

lovage growing in the garden at

All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be used in salads or used to make soup or broth and give an strong celery like taste.  I’ve read that leaves can be dried and used like a bay leaf is used.  The root is also edible, though I’ve never eaten it. The plant slightly resembles celery or parsley but much taller.  April and June are the best times to pick the leaves if you want to use them.  Seeds can also be used as a spice seasoning.

lovage growing in the garden at

The stems are erect and hollow and form umbrellas of yellowish blooms. It reminds me of celery and parsley combined.

If you want to divide the plant, spring is the best time, before it gets too tall.  There is a long tap root, similar to a carrot, so be sure to dig deep to get it out.  This probably isn’t a plant I would buy from the garden centre as the blooms aren’t spectacular, but as it was here in the garden I’ve just let it grow.  From time to time I cut leaf stems to use in cut flower arrangements.

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