Lovage Seed Pack


Levisticum officinale. 

Lovage is a delight. Not just the prolific growth it puts on in the summer, nor its tasty leaves, roots and seeds, but also its wonderfully warming and energising properties. 

Rather movingly, the name ‘lovage’ is derived from ‘love-ache’, though the ‘ache‘ actually refers to an old name for parsley. However, a hair-wash with lovage infusion was said to be an attractive aphrodisiac, so perhaps there is more to the etymology than we know? The botanical name for the genus ‘Levisticum’ appears to be an evolution from the original ‘Ligusticum’ referring to its earlier popularity in the Luguria region of Northern Italy. 

It has a very distinctive taste of strong celery and parsley and is used in much the same way; it brings body to a soup, some spice to a salad and is fantastic in fermented pickles. 

Sowing and Growing 

Sow in pots or directly into final position in the spring. Seeds and resulting plants are large so allow plenty of space; if sowing into pots only sow one or two seeds per pot. Once the plants have reached 10cm transplant or thin with a spacing of around 60cm. A large herbaceous perennial, it grows to around 6-7 feet tall, does best in rich, compost-fed soil and prefers full sun to partial shade. Grow close to your kitchen for easy access. 

Uses and Benefits 

Think of lovage as an aromatic carminative herb that supports the natural functions of digestion. It spicy-bitter notes make it helpful for digesting fatty and rich meals. A few leaves or seeds added to a meal or added to a tea help with gripes – and banishes gurgling and grumbling! Its warming, aromatic compounds also help to keep the airways clean as they help to open the lungs. Like other members of the Apiaceae family, such as celery seed or carrot seed, it is an effective diuretic helping the flow. 

It is very similar in use as a renowned Chinese herb, Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum wallichii). Classified as pungent and warm, it enters the Liver, Pericardium and Gall bladder meridians, and is classified in the ‘Move Blood and Qi’ categories. 

Harvesting and Preparation 

Do be cautious when harvesting as the furanocoumarin content can cause photo sensitivity in susceptible individuals. This can cause a photodermatitis type rash. Picking a few leaves is fine but for any more robust gardening, wear gloves and cover your arms. 

Use the leaves fresh. Just a few are needed as the taste is so strong.
Collect the seed at the end of the summer and use as you would fennel- in tea, curries or stews. 

The root can be added to winter tonics by infusing in some brandy- perhaps with some spilanthes buzz buttons, elecampane and/or some ginger. 

The root can be harvested at the end of the second year. Scrub it clean, slice into thin pieces and dry at 35C for 24-36 hours. 

The roots makes a great addition to any ‘bath-tub’ gin recipe along with or a a replacement for the angelica root that is so often included in a classic gin. 

Fresh and young lovage stems can be candied into a delicious digestive sweet-treat. Cut the best quality stems into 4cm pieces and simmer in a 50:50 sugar;water solution for 30minutes. Be very careful, simmering sugar solution is extremely hot. Then lie the lovage stems on a cooling-rack and allow to dry. Sprinkle with a little arrow root or corn starch and store in an airtight container. 

Minimum 100 seeds per pack.