Lovage

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a tall perennial plant, the sole species in the genus Levisticum, in the family Apiaceae, subfamily Apioideae, tribe Apieae.

The exact native range is disputed; some sources cite it as native to much of Europe and southwestern Asia, others from only the eastern Mediterranean region in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, and yet others only to southwestern Asia in Iran and Afghanistan, citing European populations as naturalised.  It has been long cultivated in Europe, the leaves being used as a herb, the roots as a vegetable, and the seeds as a spice, especially in southern European cuisine.

Lovage is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 1.8–2.5 m tall, with a basal rosette of leaves and stems with further leaves, the flowers being produced in umbels at the top of the stems. The stems and leaves are shiny glabrous green to yellow-green. The larger basal leaves are up to 70 cm long, tripinnate, with broad triangular to rhomboidal, acutely pointed leaflets with a few marginal teeth; the stem leaves are smaller, and less divided with few leaflets. The flowers are yellow to greenish-yellow, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in globose umbels up to 10–15 cm diameter; flowering is in late spring. The fruit is a dry two-parted schizocarp 4–7 mm long, mature in autumn.

The leaves can be used in salads, or to make soup, and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or grated for use in salads. Its flavor and smell is very similar to celery. Lovage tea can be applied to wounds as an antiseptic, or drunk to stimulate digestion. The seeds can be used as a spice, similar to fennel seeds.  In the UK, an alcoholic lovage cordial is traditionally mixed with brandy in the ratio of 2:1 as a winter drink.  Lovage is third in its quercetin content, behind tea and capers .

The roots, which contain a heavy, volatile oil, are used as a mild aquaretic. Lovage root contains furanocoumarins which can lead to photosensitivity.

The name ‘lovage’ is from “love-ache”, ache being a medieval name for parsley; this is a folk-etymological corruption of the older French name levesche, from late Latin levisticum, in turn thought to be a corruption of the earlier Latin ligusticum, “of Liguria” (northwest Italy), where the herb was grown extensively.  In modern botanical usage, both Latin forms are now used, for different, but closely related genera, with Levisticum for (culinary) lovage, and Ligusticum for Scots lovage, a similar species from northern Europe, and related species.  In Germany and Holland, one of the common names of lovage is Maggikraut (German) or Maggiplant (Dutch) because the plant’s taste is reminiscent of Maggi soup seasoning. Italian levistico, French livèche, Romanian leuştean, Hungarian lestyán, Russian любисток lyubistok, etc. In Bulgaria, it is known as девесил deveseel. The Czech name is libeček, and the Polish name is lubczyk, both meaning ‘love herb’. The name in Swedish is libbsticka. The official German name is Liebstöckel, literally ‘love sticklet’.  The Croatian name for this plant is ljupčac or vegeta (named after a well known Croatian meal seasoning similar to Maggi); the Finnish name is “Liperi” or “Lipstikka”, the former meaning preachers collar, because in old ages the plat was cultivated in monasteries or in rectories, while the latter is from Swedish, which is the second language spoken in Finland.

(info and pictures via Wikipedia)

Lovage Root Absolute is extracted from the roots of Levisticum officinale. The main center for growing the roots is in central and south Europe. The roots are generally sent to France for extraction.

The absolute is a viscous dark brown or dark amber liquid displaying a warm, rich, sweet, spicy, rooty odor with a with a precious woods, coumarinic, slightly musky undertone.

In perfumery it is appreciated for the unique effects it creates in tiny amounts. It creates a warm background in oriental creations, spicy bases, and fougere bouquets. Would be a great addition to period perfumes that endeavor to capture the odor of old-time apothecary shops and drugstores. Its spicy notes can be used very effectively in carnation and rose bases.

(info via White Lotus Aromatics)
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