Lovage is a tall, pretty perennial herb that is not commonly found in modern kitchens and herb gardens. Though the leaves look, smell, and taste somewhat like celery and can be used in soups and gravies, the lovage herb is currently used mostly in confectionery and for medicinal purposes. Because of its beneficial uses and its attractive appearance, lovage makes a useful and pleasing addition to any herb garden.
Like those of angelica, the young stems and flowers of lovage are candied and used as edible cake decorations. The plant grows very aromatic seeds from which essential oils are extracted for use as a perfume or in condiments, syrups, icings as well as liqueurs. The lovage herb has a distinctive fragrance, which accounts for its use in deodorants, bath salts, skin cleansers, and wardrobe fresheners.
Essential oil is extracted from the plant’s seeds, roots, and leaves. Oil extracted from the root has the highest concentration of 0.8 to 1.1%, while that from the seed has a lower intensity, and that from the leaf has the lowest concentration of 0.05 to 0.15%. The oil contains several compounds, which include resins, monoterpene hydrocarbons, volatile acids, sugars, gum, and tannin.
The roots, leaves, and seeds are known to have medicinal qualities, in fact, in herbal medicine, the lovage herb is used as a diuretic and a stimulant. In the past, the dried leaves were infused and used as a disinfectant and mouthwash as well as to relieve fevers and sore throats.
The lovage herb is a bushy plant that can grow up to two meters high therefore it is not suitable for growing indoors. Because of its height, it is recommended to grow the lovage herb in a section of the garden that is protected from wind, perhaps next to the strawberry patch since lovage is a wonderful companion plant known to enhance the flavor of this particular berry. Remember that by cutting off the flower heads before they develop will help your plant remain nice and bushy.
Lovage grows easily from seed and since it is a big plant you probably won’t need more than one or two of them. Use seeds that are less than three years old and sow them in late summer when they are ripe. Normally the lovage herb seeds take ten to twenty days to germinate and you should have seedlings ready to transplant to their permanent positions in autumn.
The lovage herb can also be grown by root division, by taking roots that have a shoot and replanting those around 25 inches apart from each other. If you use this method, do so in early spring when the first leaves appear. Lovage plants will live through several years if you nurture the soil and ensure that it remains moist and well-nourished.
If you want to use lovage in your soups, stews, and salads, harvest the leaves when they are still young and a deep shade of green since yellow leaves are mature and lack aroma and punch.
Although the lovage herb is not a popular plant and you rarely see it in herb gardens, it is a worthwhile addition to any garden because it has a number of practical uses as well as visual appeal.
Read also: How To Grow Zucchini In A Container Garden
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