Scientific Name: Levisticum officinale
Lovage, also known as Love Parsley, is a large celery-scented perennial with fleshy roots and hollow stems. The leaves are large, aromatic, toothed, deeply divided and glossy dark green on long stems – the leaves near the top are smaller and stalkless. Umbels of tiny greenish-yellow flowers appear in summer followed by rigid golden-brown seed pods. Lovage needs well-drained soil and can grow in full sun, shade and partial shade. Cut back once or twice during summer for a continuous supply of young leaves. Lovage dies back in winter and takes 3-5 years to mature fully. Lovage is a large plant — so take care where you position it in your garden.
Lovage is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia where it grows on sunny mountain slopes. As Lovage leaves have deodorizing and antiseptic properties, travelers in early days put the leaves in their shoes to revive their weary feet and at inns it was served as a cordial combined with tansy and yarrow.
Harvest and parts used
Pick young Lovage leaves, avoiding the central flower stem and the hollow main stems before flowering. Use fresh or dry or freeze for later use. The roots of 2- or 3-year-old plants are dug in autumn, sliced and dried. The dried root retain their aroma and are used medicinally. Harvest seeds when ripe.
Lovage is a culinary delight which add a strong meaty flavour to dishes — so use it cautiously at first.
Chop the stems and leafstalks into soups and casseroles or use it as a vegetable and steam and serve it with a white sauce. Add the young leaf to salad or rub it on chicken before baking. Add the fresh or dried leaves to stock, stews and cheese — the dried leaves contain a strong flavour of yeast and celery and are excellent infused as broth or for seasoning. Brew a tea for its savoury taste. The dried leaf and seed can be grounded and used as a celery salt — use it sparingly. In Europe Lovage is called 'Maggi Herb'.
Lovage seeds also has a warm celery flavour and can be crushed and added to bread and pastries or sprinkled on salads, rice or mashed potato.
Lovage is a bitter-sweet herb with a pungent aroma that will benefit indigestion, colic, flatulence and poor appetite. Lovage will aid the respiratory system, act as an expectorant and treat bronchitis and increase perspiration. It is a diuretic and antimicrobial and either the seed, leaf or root can be infused to reduce water retention and kidney stones. Lovage will aid rheumatism and assist in the removal of waste products and for any urinary tract complaints. Lovage encourages menstruation, relieves menstrual pain and its warming nature also improves poor circulation.
Lovage root is an ingredient of urological and cardiotonic medicine.
I would like to recommend the following method of the herbal tea infusion as written by Margie Frayne in her book Help yourself to Health — A guide for home health using healing herbs and good nutrition, 2005:
3 teaspoon fresh herb or 1 teaspoon dried herb to 1 cup
Place the herb in a container with a lid. Pour the boiling (just of the boil) water over the herb. Cover and stand for 5-15 minutes. Strain. Add sugar or honey if necessary.
Make enough for one day only. Do not stand overnight to use the next day. This method of making an infusion can be used to make a tea from the aerial parts of a herb (leaf; flower; stem) or a mixture of these, but not when using the roots of a herb.
When used as a diuretic, take 2-3 times a day, or as a stomachic — 30 minutes before a meal.