Foraging for Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) Apiaceae family

Discover the medicinal benefits and culinary uses of wild angelica in our short wild plant guide.

Our wild angelica is not as well known as its sister plant from the garden (Angelica archangelica). Nevertheless, it is a plant worth knowing, for a range of medicinal and culinary uses.

Wild angelica can be found appearing from the middle of spring. By May, it is possible to find the first leaves in woodland, and on riverbanks, where the plant loves to romp

Various Angelica species are used for medicine including the popular Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis) also known as Dong Quai. 

 

Leaves: These appear initially as new leaf shoots, before extending and expanding into their full size and shape. The leaves are aromatic, with a slight sour parsley aroma or odourless. The basal leaves have sheaths at the base.  Leaves are large, triangular-shaped, 3 x pinnate.

The oval leaflets are 3-9 cm long and are sometimes purple-edged or purple-tinged. Margins are 1-2 serrated.

Petioles: Often purplish at the sheathing base, hollow, somewhat flattened, with a slight celery scent. A white latex can be seen from the sheath when cut or removed

Stems: Solid at first. Round, slightly ridged and as it rises the stem becomes hollow

Roots: Large tap-rooted plant. 

Flowers: Large compound umbels. You will see anything from 15-50 smaller individual umbels in the spray.

Each of these umbellules may have anything from 22-52 flowers with 5 petals. More often than not these are white but pink-tinged flowers are not uncommon.

There are no bracts underneath the compound umbels, but bracteoles are present under the secondary umbels.

Flowering season: Typically the flowers will open from July throughout the summer months

Fruits/seeds: As with all our carrot family plants, they produce two seeds fused at the base. individually the seeds appear nearly flat and oblong in shape.

They are sharply aromatic with an almost diesel-like note to their citrus tones, mingling with parsnip and parsley-like aromatics. You can learn more about medicinal plant constituents here.

Habitats: As its Latin species name suggests, this plant loves woodland settings, as well as meadows and river banks. It enjoys lowland settings and much of our higher ground here in the UK, up to altitudes of 850 metres. 

Harvesting: The young leaves can be added to acidic fruit puddings and jams. The new leaf shoots can be cooked like asparagus. Seeds can be used in pickling and jams. In my harvesting guide, you can learn a host of harvesting tips, tricks, and hacks

Other Notes: The carrot family plants need careful observation and identification. Garden angelica is very closely related but bigger.

 

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