Saturday, 12 January 2013

Moving angelica

Question about angelica.

I've been asked by a lady called Jan whether it is possible to move a mature angelica plant to another situation.

There are a few species of Angelica and I'm assuming the one she refers to is that most commonly seen: A.archangelica. This is short lived  and dies after flowering. However it will happily self-seed and the new plant popping up in the position of the old one often gives the impression of longevity. There are numerous legends about the plant, one being that an angel appeared to a monk in a dream and informed him that the angelica was a cure for the plague - hence the name. In view of the fact that estimations of plague deaths are sometimes as high as 60 percent of Europe's population, two things strike me: a. the dream must have happened pretty late on, or b. the angel was having him on.

It is probably feasible to move the mature plant but it has a deep tap root necessary for supporting a potential height of up to six feet and so needs to be moved with as little damage as possible. The general feeling is that this is a poor bet, so I would be more in favour of sowing fresh seed (they are only viable for about 3 months), in early autumn and planting out the following spring. Apparently, better germination is attained by subjecting the seed to light, so there is no need to cover it. However, another recommended method of sowing is to place seeds in slightly damp perlite in a plastic bag in the fridge, planting out when they start to germinate. The light in my fridge goes out when the door is shut (I'm told), so this seems a bit at odds with the first method, but both seem to work, so take your choice. Thinking about it, the fridge method is recommended for seeds getting towards the end of the three month viability period, so perhaps they get the light requirement before being sown.

For planting out, a deep, fertile soil is advisable, echoing that of Angelica's    native woodland habitat. For the same reason, the plant will be happy in relatively shaded situations.

A final word of caution: don't mistake Angelica for the taller (10ft plus) giant hogweed, which looks similar but has juice which can cause severe blisters after the skin is exposed to sunlight. While Angelica can be eaten like celery, candied for cake decoration, or added to jams, God knows what the effect of doing this with giant hogweed would be.

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in winter

1 comment:

  1. Exactly the information I was looking for, clear and concise with a touch of humour. Thank you