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Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica; syn. Archangelica officinalis Hoffm., Archangelica officinalis var. himalaica C.B.Clarke) is a biennial plant from the umbelliferous family Apiaceae. Alternative English names are Holy Ghost, Wild Celery, and Norwegian angelica During its first year it only grows leaves, but during its second year its fluted stem can reach a height of two metres. Its leaves are composed of numerous small leaflets, divided into three principal groups, each of which is again subdivided into three lesser groups. The edges of the leaflets are finely toothed or serrated. The flowers, which blossom in July, are small and numerous, yellowish or greenish in colour, are grouped into large, globular umbels, which bear pale yellow, oblong fruits. Angelica only grows in damp soil, preferably near rivers or deposits of water. Not to be confused with the toxic Pastinaca sativa, or Wild Parsnip.Angelica archangelica grows wild in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, mostly in the northern parts of the countries. It is cultivated in France, mainly in the Marais Poitevin, a marsh region close to Niort in the départment Deux-Sèvres.
Usage/History From the 10th century on, angelica was cultivated as a vegetable and medicinal plant, and achieved great popularity in Scandinavia in the 12th century and is still used today, especially in Sami culture. A flute-like instrument with a clarinet-like sound can be made of its hollow stem, probably as a toy for children. Linnaeus reported that Sami peoples used it in reindeer milk. Other usages include spices. In 1602, angelica was introduced in Niort, which had just been ravaged by the plague, and it has been popular there ever since. It is used to flavour liqueurs or aquavits (e.g. Chartreuse, Bénédictine, Vermouth and Dubonnet), omelettes and trout, and as jam. The long bright green stems are also candied and used as decoration.Angelica contains a variety of chemicals which have been shown to have medicinal properties. Chewing on angelica or drinking tea brewed from it will cause local anesthesia, but it will heighten the consumer's immune system. It has been shown to be effective against various bacteria, fungal infections and even viral infections.The essential oil of the roots of 'Angelica archangelica contains β-terebangelene, C10H16, and other terpenes; the oil of the seeds also contains β-terebangelene, together with methylethylacetic acid and hydroxymyristic acid.Angelica seeds and angelica roots are sometimes used in making absinthe.
Etymology Archangelica comes from the Greek word "arkhangelos" (=arch-angel), due to the myth that it was the angel Gabriel who told of its use as medicine.In Finnish it is called väinönputki, in Sami fádnu, boska and rássi, in English garden angelica, in German arznei-engelwurz, in Dutch grote engelwortel, in Swedish kvanne, in Norwegian kvann and in Icelandic it has the name hvönn.
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