Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Levisticum officinale
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Lovage, Levisticum officinale W.D.J. Koch., a perennial
herb native to the mountainous regions of northern Europe and
naturalized in the eastern United States, has been grown over
the centuries for its aromatic fragrance, its fine ornamental
qualities, and to a lesser extent, its medicinal values. All parts
of the plant., including the roots, are strongly aromatic and
contain extractable essential oils. The plant has been alternatively
classified as Ligusticum levisticum L. Hipposelinum
levisticum, Britt. and Rose, and Angelica levisticum
Ecologically, the reported life zone is 6 to 18 degrees centigrade
with 0.5 to 1.5 meters annual precipitation and a soil pH of 5.0
to 7 8 (4.1-31). Lovage thrives in deep, moist, rich soils
and can grow in full sun or lightly shaded areas.
Centers of lovage cultivation are located principally in central
Europe, where the plants are collected and the essential oils
extracted by steam distillation. The fresh roots, which produce
an oil similar to angelica's when crushed and distilled, are generally
first harvested from two-to three-year-old plants.
Subsequent harvests take place every third year. Chemical constituents
of lovage oil are mainly phthalides and terpenoids, including
n-butylidene phthalide n-butyl-phthalide, sedanonic
anhydride, d--terpineol, carvacrol eugenol, and volatile
The variations in aroma and fragrance among the different parts
of the plant allow each portion of the plant to be utilized somewhat
differently. The volatile oil extracted from the roots is highly
valued for use in perfumery, soaps, and creams, and it has been
used for flavoring tobacco products. The seeds and seed oil are
used for flavoring agents in confectionery and liqueurs. The stems
are used for candied products, and leaves are added to salads,
soups, and stews because of their pungent, celery-like flavor.
As a medicinal plant, lovage has been used as a carminative,
diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, and
stomachic; and also as a treatment for jaundice. Current medicinal
applications include use as a diuretic and for regulation of menses.
Several coumarins have been identified in lovage oil (1.1-94,
Scotch lovage, Ligusticum scoticum or Levisticum scoticum,
native to coastal areas of northwest Europe and England, is sometimes
used as a vegetable, but is not economically important. Because
of similar development, black lovage, Smyrnium olisatrum L., and
bastard lovage, Laserpitium latifolium L. are sometimes
mistaken for lovage. Water lovage, Oenanthe crocata
L., is a poisonous plant of the Apiaceae family (11.1-49).
Lovage is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as
a natural seasoning and flavoring agent (21 CFR section 172.510
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997