Scot’s Lovage (Ligusticum scoticum)

Scot’s Lovage (Ligusticum scoticum)


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Scot’s Lovage – also known as Scottish Liquorice Root, Scotch Parsley, and Beach/Sea Lovage – is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial member of the Carrot family (Apiaceae). It grows along the coast of Scotland, and the Northern-most parts of England, and in summer, small white flowers are borne in tight umbels, over the green stems which are typically flushed red at the base.

It is similar to its larger, cousin Garden Lovage (Levisticum officinale), but with a milder, flavour. Together with the fact that the leaves, young shoots, stems, flowers, roots and seed can all be used – either raw or cooked – this makes it, in our opinion, at least, the more versatile of the two.

The emerging leaves are mild enough to use in salads. Older leaves and stems have a pleasant, but stronger flavour, somewhere between Lovage and Celery, and can be used sparingly in salads, or more liberally in cooked dishes – chopped finely they are excellent in tomato based sauces. Blanched, by excluding light, they are delicious, with a flavour that is much milder and sweeter.

The leaves and stems taste better before the plant flowers, but once it does, the flowers themselves can be sprinkled on salads. By using these, however, you miss out of the seeds, which can be used as a spice, and have an earthy, savoury flavour a bit like celery seeds but more peppery. Like celery seed, they also make a nice condiment when mixed with salt.

Somehow we have never gotten round to trying the roots, although they are supposedly very good.

Scot’s Lovage is a very easy plant to grow, and it is surprising that it isn’t more widely cultivated. It prefers free-draining soil and a nice sunny spot – although it can tolerate some shade – but beyond that it doesn’t appear to be particularly fussy, and is moreover, very cold-hardy, and suitable for growing in even the most exposed sites.

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