Angelica

By Nione

Photo of Nione

Nione

Angelica is a genus of the family ammiacea, of which there are several species native to North America. It can be found growing in fields and damp places, as well as all around my property.  This is a beautiful plant, which really makes a statement in the garden. It is a beautiful backdrop for the color of the flowering plants. My neighbors think I am a little nuts to let weeds grow in my flower beds, but they would be appalled to find that most of those lovely flowers are actually weeds. Technically a weed is a flower growing where we don’t want it to.

This is a tall bright green perennial, usually reaching in height from 4 to 6 feet. The stem is stout, fluted and hollow with multiple small branches sprouting from about half way up the stalk to a full spread at the top. The leaves are finely toothed, and the flowers at the top are small and yellowish to green in color. The flower groups, which form in umbels, are similar in appearance to Queen Anne’s lace.  The odor of Angelica is peculiar though not unpleasant. Flowering occurs from July to August, when it begins to go to seed. This plant is easily cultivated in the garden; however, it can get out of hand if not controled. Because of its aromatic qualities, in France angelica is a cash crop grown on farms for use as a flavoring for liquors, candies and hops bitters.

This plant should be dried or candied quickly to retain its medicinal qualities. Once dried, as with all herbs, it should be stored in a glass container; plastic containers leech the flavaniods from the herb rendering it useless.

How Angelica is harvested depends on the intended use of the plant. Taken as a young plant it can be candied; the taste is mild and somewhat like anise. I generally harvest Angelica in early summer for candies.  Here is the process for candying Angelica if you wish to try it. It is a little involved but worth the effort.

Candied Angelica

Cut the stem into 4” pieces. I usually split the stem as well. Boil these in water until somewhat tender.  Remove from the water and strip off the outer skin, return it to the pot with fresh water and simmer until bright green. Remove them from the water and pat dry.

Using equal parts of sugar and angelica, add a layer of sugar, then angelica, then a layer of sugar until your container is filled or you run out of herb.  Cover with a towel or cloth and let it sit for a couple of days.

Next, put the contents of your container into a pot. There may be enough juice from the angelica or you may need to add a little water.  Slowly bring this mixture to a boil until the sugar begins to form syrup. Let it boil a few minutes longer and then strain through a sieve and scatter on a plate or a cookie sheet to dry. Sprinkle a little sugar on your plate to prevent the candy from sticking.

Angelica flowers are harvested for medicinal purposes and so are the seeds. Be sure to keep some of the seeds for reseeding in the spring.  The roots are taken in the fall after the plant has died back to the ground.

Illustration Angelica archangelica

Angelica archangelica

This plant is an astringent and generally used for menorrhagia (abnormally excessive menstruation), diarrhea, and dysentery. It is also good remedy for colic, gas, sore stomach, heartburn, angina and high blood pressure.   The medicinal properties are easily extracted in water. Dosing is one teaspoon of the dried herb to one cup of boiling water. Drink one to two cups a day.  Externally, angelica is used for ulcerations of the throat and mouth, the tea is gargled warm 3-4 times a day.

Angelica is an herb which should be avoided by pregnant women as it is a strong emmenagogue. (Induces menstruation.)  Diabetics should not take this herb due to its ability to cause weakness.

Magically, Angelica is an herb of Imbolc. It is either spread on the floor or used in incense to purify. According to “[amazon_link id="0875421229" target="_blank"] Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs [/amazon_link]”:

Its gender is masculine, Planet is the sun, its element is fire, and  the Deity is Venus
Powers: Exorcism, Protection, Healing, and Visions.

Magical uses: This is a plant grown for protection; it is used in all protection and exorcism incenses. Sprinkle the four corners of the house with Angelica to ward off evil or sprinkle it around the perimeter of the house. Added to the bath, angelica removes curses, hexes, and any spells that may have been cast against you. The root was carried in the pocket as a gambling talisman among some American Tribes. Angelica is also used in healing incenses and mixtures.

 

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