Lovage tastes and looks a lot like celery.
This herb is native to western Asia, parts of the Middle East, and the Mediterranean region. It has been cultivated around the globe for centuries, and has naturalized in some areas of North America and most of Europe.
The English common name “lovage” comes from the Middle English word “lovache,” or “loveache.” Levisticum is derived from the Latin word ligusticum, which in turn is derived from ligusticus – meaning “Ligurian” – from the Liguria region of northwest Italy where this plant was extensively cultivated.
Packed with vitamin C and various B-complex vitamins, it also contains quercetin, a plant pigment with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
L. officinale is the definition of a fuss-free plant. It needs minimal care and it will reseed itself readily, so you won’t have to replant it over and over.
The plants can grow up to six feet tall, with a 32-inch spread, so they make stately specimens in the garden. Lovage is suitable for gardeners in zones 3-9, and it prefers a cool climate to a hot one.
The perennial plants die back to the ground and go dormant during the winter, and reemerge in the spring. They grow quickly, so you can expect your first harvest within a few months of planting.
The leaves look a bit like flat leaf parsley, with a dark to medium green color and a glossy texture.
The plants produce yellow flowers in umbrella-shaped umbels before setting seed in late summer. The roots are grayish brown with cream interiors.
When the plants first emerge from the soil, the stems have a reddish tint to them.
Plant lovage in a part to full sun location.
The soil should be well-drained with a slightly acidic pH of around 6.5. It prefers sandy, loamy soil. Add plenty of organic matter when planting – unlike other Mediterranean herbs, it likes rich earth.
Keep the soil moist to the touch at all times, but not wet. If the soil dries out, the leaves tend to get bitter.