Saturday, April 16, 2011

Angelica archangelica

Angelica seed
First year angelica
Angelica archangelica is a fantastic plant with a bad reputation. But it's not deserved. Mention angelica and what pops into most peoples heads is an image of a dessert with lots of icing sugar, bad whipped cream, half an unripe strawberry, and a sprig of hard, shiny, inedible green stuff. This shiny green stuff is an angelica, but not the culinary variety. 

Last night I'd hoped to enjoy some of the good stuff, Angelica archangelica, for dessert. The littlest garden fairy helped pick rhubarb and angelica, put it in a baking tray and sprinkle brown sugar on top. We baked it at about 180 degrees while we ate dinner, which takes quite a while, and when it came out of the oven it looked gorgeous. Toffeed sugar around the edges, candied sticks of rhubarb, flecked with angelica. But I made a fatal error and put it down near the fairies to cool while I tidied up. BIG MISTAKE. By the time I'd returned, there was only a few drops of syrup left. Poor Mum. But the kids liked it, obviously. The angelica seems to counter some of the harshness in the rhubarb while adding its own gorgeous scent.

Before baking

Before theiving!

It's also used as a vegetable in Scandinavia, the flower buds can be used in a salad and the stems are candied to produce  a sticky, floral tasting, bright green confection. And I'm not a herbalist but my books say it's great for circulation, chest complaints - it's a good expectorant, ulcers and may even contain anti-cancer compounds. 

And, on top of all this it's a gorgeous garden plant! Grow it in a moist spot with plenty of compost. It's a biennial and in the first year produces masses of foliage then may die back to its roots in cold areas, to reappear in Spring and send up the most stunning, up to 2m tall, flower spike. This is super sculptural and attracts bees and beneficial insects. I'd have to say it would be the biggest bug attractor I've ever grown. It is a delight to watch all of the different species of winged creatures getting stuck in for a feed. It can self seed freely, but unwanted volunteers are easily pulled. 

We'll bring lots of seedlings to Tas Farm Gate tomorrow morning, the weatherman says 23 degrees! Hope to see you there for our last market before Easter.

Those baby chicks, all grown up and waiting for breakfast.

Mitsuba flowers

Pineapple sage buds

1 comment:

  1. Hi there I was lucky enough to be given two Tomatillo plants from Jo Cook As I planted the spindly weed like plants,I wondered how they would grow Today I am most excited by these strong prolific plants,covered in fruit and flowers It's very exciting to watch!!! Amanda Staley West Hobart.