Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb lovage are love parsley, sea parsley, lavose, liveche, smallage, European lovage, common lovage, Cornish lovage, English lovage, Italian lovage, maggi plant and old English lovage.
Lovage is a herb which belongs to the Apiaceae family derived its name from the Latin word denoting ‘Ligurian’ which was thrived from Liguria a province that comprises the Italian Riviera.Lovage came to America with the English colonists and was brought over for both food and medicine. The name entered English in Chaucer’s Day as ‘love-ache’ or ‘love parsley’. The name lovage is for the only fact that breath sweeteners prepared with lovage may stimulate romance. Thus this old English herb that was formerly very generally cultivated, and is still occasionally cultivated as a sweet herb and for the use in herbal medicine of its root, and to a less degree, the leaves and seeds. The herb has a peculiar name Baldmoney,' which is said to be a corruption of Balder, the Apollo of the northern nations, to whom the plant was dedicated.
Lovage is a hardy perennial herb, with ribbed stalks and hollow stems that divide into branches near the top. The thick, erect hollow and channelled stems grow 3 or 4 feet or even more in height. The stems bear umbels of yellow flowers about 30 mm across similar to those of Fennel or Parsnip. Leaves are dark green, opposite, compound, leaflets wedge shaped maybe toothed or ridged. Lovage has a strong taste and odour.Their surface is shining, and when bruised they give out an aromatic odour, somewhat reminiscent both of Angelica and Celery. The elongated root is crowned with fibres, which is about5 or 6 inches long and they have a nutty flavour.The fruits are extremely aromatic yellowish-brown in colour, elliptical in shape and curved, with three prominent winged ribs. The whole plant has a pleasant aromatic smell.
It is not considered to be indigenous to Great Britain, thus a native of the Mediterranean region, growing wild in the mountainous districts of the south of France, in northern Greece and in the Balkans.
It is apparently a wild herb and probably a garden escape growing in mountainous districts. It is mostly cultivated in herb gardens. It grows best in well-drained cavernous, luxuriant soil that can preserve moisture. The plant’s pH endurance range is between 5.0 and 7.6. Normally, lovage grows well in full sunlight, but can also adjust and thrive well in shade. However, the plant requires regular watering during the arid seasons.
Lovage is easy to cultivate and Propagation is usually done by division of roots or by seeds. Rich moist, but well-drained soil is required and a sunny situation. Normally, the seeds give rise to shoots or saplings within 10 to 28 days of sowing. It takes a complete summer or nearly a year for the lovage seedling to develop into a plant of a good enough size. In late summer, when the seed ripens, it should be sown and the seedlings transplanted, either in the autumn or as early in spring as possible, to their permanent quarters, setting 12 inches apart each way. The seeds may also be sown in spring, but it is preferable to sow when just ripe. Root division is performed in early spring. The plants should last for several years, if the ground be kept well cultivated, and where the seeds are permitted to scatter the plants will come up without care. It is best if we split the plants and re-plant the plump roots along with the stems at intervals of three to four years which in turn helps the plants to remain strong and energetic
The flowers of the herb lovage are generally in midsummer.
Pests and Diseases
Lovage plants are very susceptible to aphids, leaf miners, chewing insects as well as diseases caused by fungi. These causes white colored burrowing spots in some leaves. Pick off and destroy the infected leaves so the pest won’t get out of hand.
The roots, leaves and seeds are used for its medicinal purposes and the young stems for flavouring and confectionery.
- It eases all inward gripings and pains, dissolves wind, and resists poison and infection.
- A decoction of the herb is a remedy for ague, and pains of the body and bowels due to cold.
- The roots and fruit are aromatic and stimulant, and have diuretic and carminative action.
- They are used in disorders of the stomach and feverish attacks, especially for cases of colic and flatulence in children, poor appetite, indigestion and bronchitis.
- Lovage is used as stimulating expectorants.
- Lovage was considered to be of substantial significance for treating kidney stones, jaundice, malaria, pleurisy, boils and aching throats, menstrual disorders, and gout, rheumatism as well as migraine headaches.
- Lovage also helps in improving blood circulating system.
- Lovage leaves where used as antiseptic on the skin.
Commercial and Culinary Applications
- The root has been eaten by the Scotch Highlanders as a vegetable.
- Leaves of lovage are commonly used for adding flavor and zing, particularly in soups.
- Lovage is also used in several liqueurs, herb bitters and sauces as an important flavoring agent.
- Grounded lovage seeds may be added to candy, meats, breads and aromatic crackers or biscuits for preparing pickles like capers.
- Dried root has been used as a condiment.
- Grated fresh root can be cooked as a vegetable, used raw in salads, used to make tea, preserved in honey; essential oil used in condiments, icings, syrups, some liqueurs.
- Essential oil can be used to make a heavy spicy perfume.
- It is also used in tobacco products, as a closet freshener, deodorant and added to a bath.
Folklore and Myths
The root of lovage herb is also known as Bo' HOG ROOT, to Aid Love and Sexuality. To draw a new lover folklores says one should carry a red flannel bag in which they place 3 slices of Bo' HOG ROOT, some Sampson Snake Root, and a John the Conqueror Root, Queen Elizabeth Root if female. A red 7-day candle dressed with attraction oil and crumbled lovage is also said to draw a new lover. Other people tell us that they boil lovage in a pan of water to make a tea and if they bathe in this tea before dawn for nine days and then carry the water to crossroads, call the name of the one they love, and throw the bath-water over their left shoulder toward the sunrise.