Saturday, July 01, 2017

Scots Lovage/ Skotsk Lostilk

Ligusticum scoticum

Scots lovage, or Scottish licorice-root,is a perennial plant of the family Umbelliferae, found near the coasts of northern Europe and north-eastern North America. It grows up to 60 centimetres tall and is found in rock crevices and cliff-top grassland. The plant is edible, with a flavour resembling parsley or celery. The edge of the triangular leaves may be toothed, lobed or serrated and are typically either a paler green or magenta. The flowers are greenish-white.

Ligusticum scoticum tastes and smells like parsley or celery, and was formerly widely eaten in western Britain, both for nutrition and to combat scurvy. The plant is primarily arctic, ranging from northern Norway to the northerly shores of the British Isles and from western Greenland to New England.  A related species, Ligusticum hultenii, occurs around the northern Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Alaska.

The Latin name Ligusticum refers to the home of the plant namely Liguria in northern Italy where several species of this plant-family grow wild, but the Ligusticum scoticum origins from Scotland where it grows at the rocky coast. It also grows wild at the coast of Norway. In Denmark Scots Lovage is rare and protected. It grows wild in a few places in Denmark  - a few populations in Thy and Han Herred. It is possible to cultivate Scots Lovage in the garden and be able to pluck and use this well-tasting herb. 

Within the British Isles, Ligusticum scoticum is only found on coasts where the mean annual temperature is below 15 °C (59 °F). Towards the southern end of its range, the plant performs poorly on south-facing sites. It grows in fissures in rocks, where it may be the only vascular plant, and also in cliff-top grassland communities. Ligusticum scoticum cannot tolerate grazing, and is harmed by the actions of nesting seabirds, it is therefore rarely found on bird cliffs, or where grazing sheep and rabbits are found. It is, however, tolerant of salt spray, and its growth has been shown to improve when given dilute seas water. The leaves of L. scoticum are frost-tolerant, and die back each winter, but regrow very rapidly the following spring. In the British Isles, flowering occurs from June to August, and the seeds are ripe in October or November; the timing is expected to be later at higher latitudes. The flowers of L. scoticum are visited by generalist pollinators, mostly flies.


Folk medicine: In the old days  the plant juice was considered to be calming, and a decoction was used as a drink against hysteria and insanity.  Insomnia was helped by placing the plant root under the pillow.

Ligusticum scoticum was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 work Species Plantarum.

Scots Lovage was earlier used as a medical herb against digestion problems and reumathism and the plant juice was used to promote child birth. Decoction from the root was working somnolent - therefore Scots Lovage was earlier knon as sleep herb (søvnurt). 

Food: today Scots Lovage is used in soups and fish dishes. 
In tea as a light somnolent drug like lemon balm.
 Parts of Scots Lovage are fine in the kitchen. The young leaves, the flowers and the unripe seeds are well suited to be eaten fresh fx in salad or as a decoration when serving the food. The leaves are most delicate when quite young before the plant is flowering. They taste good in a mixed tomato salad or - salsa together with cucumber, onion, mint leaves and an oil/lemon dressing. Young leaves can be mixed in the mince for fish cakes. The stems can be made into candy for confiture. Older leaves, the ripe seeds and the root can be used in stews. Scots lovage can naturally be the part of a Bouquet garni. The ripe grounded seeds can be used as a substitut for pepper. 

If people suffered from insomnia they could pack the root into a sock and place it under the pillow

source: Danske Klosterurter, Anemette Olesen, 2001. 
photo: wikipedia

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