Angelica is a genus of about 60 species of tall biennial and perennial herbs. They are typically native to temperate and subartic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, reaching as far north as Iceland and Lapland.
They grow about 3ft-9ft, and have large bipinnate leaves and large compound umbels of white or greenish flowers. These large sparkling starburst flowers are pollinated by a variety of insects, the floral sscents are species specific, and even specific to particular subspecies.
for medicinal purposes, also the seeds
for use in confectionery and flavouring and the preparation of liqueurs.
The dried leaves, on account of their aromatic qualities, are used in the preparation of hop bitters.
The whole plant is aromatic, but the root only is official in the Swiss, Austrian and German Pharmacopoeias.
Angelica roots should be dried rapidly and placed in air-tight receptacles. They will then retain their medicinal virtues for many years.
should be dug up in the autumn of the first year, as it is then least liable to become mouldy and worm-eaten: it is very apt to be attacked by insects. Where very thick, the roots should be sliced to quicken the drying process.
The fresh root has a yellowish-grey
skin, and yields when bruised a honeycoloured juice, having all the aromatic properties of the plant. If an incision is made in the bark of the stems and the crown of the root at the commencement of spring, this resinous gum will exude. It has a special aromatic flavour of musk benzoin, for either of which it can be substituted.
The dried root, as it appears in commerce, is greyish brown and much wrinkled externally, whitish and spongy within and breaks with a starchy fracture, exhibiting shining, resinous spots. The odour is strong and fragrant, and the taste at first sweetish, afterwards warm, aromatic, bitterish and somewhat musky. These properties are extracted by alcohol and less perfectly by water.
If the plants are well grown, the leaves
may be cut for use the summer after transplanting. Ordinarily, it is the third or fourth year that the plant develops its tall flowering stem, of which the gathering for culinary or confectionery use prolongs the lifetime of the plant for many seasons. Unless it is desired to collect seed, the tops should be cut at or before flowering time. After producing seed, the plants generally die, but by cutting down the tops when the flower-heads first appear and thus preventing the formation of seed, the plants may continue for several years longer, by cutting down the stems right at their base, the plants practically become perennial, by the development of side shoots around the stool head.
The whole herb, if for medicinal use, should be collected in June and cut shortly above the root.
If the stems are already too thick, the leaves may be stripped off separately and dried on wire or netting trays.
, which is in great demand when trimmed and candied, should be cut about June or early July.
If the seeds
are required, they should be gathered when ripe and dried. The seedheads should be harvested on a fine day, after the sun has dried off the dew, and spread thinly on sailcloth in a warm spot or open shed, where the air circulates freely. In a few days the tops will have become dry enough to be beaten out with a light flail or rod, care being taken not to injure the seed. After threshing, the seeds (or fruits) should be sieved to remove portions of the stalks and allowed to remain for several days longer spread out in a very thin layer in the sun, or in a warm and sunny room, being turned every day to remove the last vestige of moisture. In a week to ten days they will be dry. Small quantities of the fruits can be shaken out of the heads when they have been cut a few days and finished ripening, so that the fruits divide naturally into the half-fruits or mericarps which shake off readily when quite ripe, especially if rubbed out of the heads between the palms of the hands. It is imperative that the seeds be dry before being put into storage packages or tins.Constituents
The chief constituents of Angelica are about 1 per cent. of volatile oil, valeric acid, angelic acid, sugar, a bitter principle, and a peculiar resin called Angelicin, which is stimulating to the lungs and to the skin. The essential oil of the roots contains terebangelene and other terpenes; the oil of the 'seeds' contains in addition methyl-ethylacetic acid and hydroxymyristic acid.
Angelica balsam is obtained by extracting the roots with alcohol, evaporating and extracting the residue with ether. It is of a dark brown colour and contains Angelica oil Angelica wax and Angelicin. Medicinal Action and Uses
The root stalks, leaves and fruit possess carminative, stimulant, diaphoretic, stomachic, tonic and expectorant properties, which are strongest in the fruit, though the whole plant has the same virtues.
Angelica is a good remedy for colds, coughs, pleurisy, wind, colic, rheumatism and diseases of the urinary organs, though it should not be given to patients who have a tendency towards diabetes, as it causes an increase of sugar in the urine.
It is generally used as a stimulating expectorant, combined with other expectorants the action of which is facilitated, and to a large extent diffused, through the whole of the pulmonary region.
It is a useful agent for feverish conditions, acting as a diaphoretic.
An infusion may be made by pouring a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the bruised root, and two tablespoonsful of this should be given three or four times a day, or the powdered root administered in doses of 1O to 30 grains. The infusion will relieve flatulence, and is also of use as a stimulating bronchial tonic, and as an emmenagogue. It is used much on the Continent for indigestion, general debility and chronic bronchitis.
For external use, the fresh leaves of the plant are crushed and applied as poultices in lung and chest diseases.
The following is extracted from an old family book of herbal remedies: 'Boil down gently for three hours a handful of Angelica root in a quart of water; then strain it off and add liquid Narbonne honey or best virgin honey sufficient to make it into a balsam or syrup and take two tablespoonsful every night and morning, as well as several times in the day. If there be hoarseness or sore throat, add a few nitre drops.' A somewhat similar drink, much in use on the Continent in the treatment of typhus fever, is thus prepared: 'Pour a quart of boiling water upon 6 oz. of Angelica root cut up in thin slices, 4 oz. of honey, the juice of 2 lemons and 1/2 gill of brandy. Infuse for half an hour.'
Formerly a preparation of the roots was much used as a specific for typhoid.
are also grateful to a feeble stomach, and will relieve flatulence promptly when chewed. An infusion of Angelica leaves
is a very healthful, strengthening tonic and aromatic stimulant, the beneficial effect of which is felt after a few days' use.
The yellow juice yielded by the stem and root becomes, when dry, a valuable medicine in chronic rheumatism and gout.