What is Angelica?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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An herb is a plant whose leaves, seeds, or flowers are used for flavoring food or in medicine. Other uses of herbs include cosmetics, dyes, and perfumes. The name derives from the Latin word herba, meaning “green crops.” Angelica archangelica, usually called simply angelica or garden angelica but also known as wild celery, is a member of the the Apiaceae or parsley family, along with anise, caraway, carrot, cumin, dill, and fennel. Other varieties include Angelica atropurpurea, known as American angelica or Purple angelica.

History. Angelica was commonplace in Victorian gardens, and the stems were eaten in salad. The herb was also thought to be a protection against the plague. Its name is explained by some as deriving from the fact that it bloomed on the old style feast of Michael the Archangel on 8 May.

Description. Angelica is a biennial or perennial with a short life. It usually attains a height of two to three feet (60 to 90 cm) in the first year, and in the second year, sends up a six to eight foot (2 to 2.4 m) bloom stalk, which sometimes reaches up to ten feet (3 m). It occurs in both wild and cultivated forms, and the greenish-white flowers bloom from June through August.


Gardening. Angelica prefers moist soil with sun or partial shade in the heat of the day. It may self-seed, or you can plant seeds in fall or seedlings in spring. It does best in well-drained soil with lots of water. Cut the stems when young so that they don’t become tough.

Food and Other Uses. The roots, stalks, leaves, and flowers of angelica are all edible. The taste is described as sweet and then bitter The stalks are candied for use as a confection, and, in fact, their primary use involves the candied stem as a confectionary decoration. In southern Spain and southwest France, there is a tradition of carving angelica.

The leaves of angelica are used in fruit dishes, soup, stew, and fish and poultry dishes. Essential oil of angelica, found in the roots and seeds, is used in commercial liqueurs – it is an ingredient in absinthe – as well as in ice creams and candy. It is also used in perfumery and medicine.


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Post 6

I went online to buy some angelica root extract. There are a lot of herbal companies that sell this.

I had heard so many benefits of using angelica,including helping with heartburn. After my evening meal I like to relax with a cup of angelica tea.

It seems like the nights that I have a cup of tea after I eat, I am able to sleep better through the night. Most of my heartburn problems would bother me and keep me up at night.

I don't know whether it is the angelica or the soothing tea, but either way, I am going to keep using it since I have had good results.

Post 5

I didn't know that angelica blooms at the same time as the feast of Michael the Archangel. I had heard that a long time ago, there was a monk who was ill and an angel appeared to him and told him to find this herb and make a tea of it as medicine. He was healed and named the herb "Angelica."

I do enjoy cooking with angelica and I was surprised to know that it's well known in Asia also. I just assumed that it was only used in European cooking. The Chinese cook with it and also use it as medicine. I remember my Chinese guide told me that "angelica is good for married women because it helps them get pregnant".

Post 4

@bfree - I'm glad to know that the angelica is working out for you. I forgot to mention in my earlier post that it's also believed to promote good digestive health and increase the immune system.

It seems to have a lot of good healing qualities to it. I hope more research can be done on it so it'll become more readily available to the general public.

Post 3

@Markus - There might not be any scientific proof that angelica has any healing powers but I for one know that it does relieve menstrual cramps. I used to get them so severe that I couldn't even get out of bed for days without balling over in pain.

Then I found out about angelica through a friend and started taking it about six months ago. It not only reduced the cramping but it regulated my cycle and calmed all the irritability that goes along with it. I believe in herbal medicine and I believe in angelica's healing power.

Post 2

I did some research on Angelica once for a medical journal and was fascinated by the herbs history of superstition. In medieval times women would make necklaces out of the leaves to protect their children from witchcraft and illnesses.

Prior to that northern Europe believed it had magic powers to protect them from evil and disease. Apparently North American Indians mixed fresh angelica in with their snuff as tobacco and rubbed the roots between their hands to attract deer.

Under Chinese medicine, the angelica root is thought to reduce the symptoms of menopause and menstrual cramps and has been used that way for centuries. They also believe it can lower blood pressure and provide relief for arthritis, asthma and many forms of allergies.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been any scientific proof that angelica possesses magical powers, nor has there been any validation that it has any medicinal value to it at all.

Post 1

Angelica may also refer to a girl's name. In the popular Nickolodean cartoon Rugrats, one of the main characters and resident bully was named Angelica. The character, like the flavor of the plant, can be best described as outwardly sweet and then bitter (i.e. mean).

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