PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Lovage (Levisticum officianale)

Wanna make a love potion? Lovage is there for you. Not in the mood? Then use it for flavoring soups, cordials, and salads. This ancient herb was loved by the early Romans who introduced it to Europe and then, in turn, colonists brought it to North America. It is incredibly versatile and a beautiful garden citizen to boot!

In medieval times Lovage was known as the traveler’s herb. Leaves were laid into shoes to invigorate weary feet, which is likely a euphemistic way of saying the strongly aromatic leaves take the edge off some ferocious medieval stink-foot. Over millennia the herb has been used for nearly every medical complaint (and love potions), but it really becomes magical in the kitchen.

Lovage is well known in eastern Europe and is a standard herb in soups, especially chicken soup. The leaves taste like very strong celery with hints and references to many other herbs mixed in. A little in a salad adds new dimensions to other greens. The younger hollow stems can be used in soups and stews. The seeds can be crushed and add a nutty/herby quality to anything. The root which resembles a feral carrot can be grated and used cooked or raw.

Lovage grows to about 4-5 feet tall and looks like celery on steroids. Beautiful umbels of chartreuse blooms sway at the top of multiple stems in late spring. Harvest it continually. It grows as fast as you use it. Dry or freeze leaves for use in winter when the plant is dormant.