Lovage a versatile herb

Many of you may not be familiar with the plant Lovage [Levisticum officinale]. It is a hardy perennial herb, you can find all our perennial and annual herb seeds here, which can be grown from seeds and it has been cultivated in Britain for many hundreds of years, it has it’s origins in the Mediterranean. The name ‘Lovage’ is said to come from the word ‘Love-Ache’ which is a medieval name for parsley, who’s leaves it resembles. Other old names for Lovage are ‘love-parsley’ and ‘mountain-parsley’.

Lovage is in the Umbelliferae family along with Parsley, Carrot, Celery and Angelica. Lovage has a strong celery type flavour, but is more aromatic, with a deep spiciness.

Lovage can be grown from seed or from young plants which are widely available from garden centres.  Plant in spring or autumn, mature plants can also be divided at these times. Plant in sun or semi shade.  Lovage likes moisture, so don’t allow it to dry out.  Add well rotted manure or garden compost when planting, and top dress each spring. Lovage is a strong tall growing plant that can reach up to 2 metres. My own plant regularly tops this height.   Trim back foliage to encourage new tender growth, but leave a few stems to flower for the seeds. I cut the hollow dried stems and tie together and place in the hedge for ladybirds to hibernate in.

All parts of the plant are edible and have many uses. Because of its rich flavour, in Germany it is known as ‘Maggikraut’ and in Holland ‘Maggiplant’ because the taste is reminiscent of ‘Maggi’ soup seasoning.

Young stems can be steamed.  The peeled roots can be braised or added to soups and stews.  The seeds used in breads, cakes and rice dishes.  The chopped leaves can be used in any dish from salads to curries and soups

Lovage has also been uses to make cordials and teas.  It has been used as an antiseptic, and Lovage tea has been used to clean wounds. An infusion of the leaves can be used to aid tired feet, and leaves can be added to a warm bath.  In cooking use sparingly as it is quite strong.

See also  Holy and Thai Basil

* Caution: Lovage should not be taken during pregnancy or if suffering Kidney disease.

Helen Fowler
Born in Middlesbrough. Moved to live in rural North Yorkshire in late teens. Moved back to the town in my 30's to live near Stockton on Tees. Then after a divorce and a serious accident I moved back to rural North Yorkshire near Thirsk, where I live now. I am a passionate gardener, a keen amateur photograper, I love travel, music, anything artistic and I have a great love of nature and the natural world. I have gardened since my teens and I lived and worked on a farm for years. I have owned or have experience with most pets and domestic animals. I hope by sharing my own experiences and the personal knowledge I have gained over the years, to help and encourage others to gain the most from their gardening efforts.

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