SCOTS LOVAGE

SCOTTISH LIQUORICE-ROOT

Ligusticum scoticum

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8green
pale
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZumbel
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8fluted
 
stem
stem8hollow
below
toxicity
toxicityZlowish
 
sex
sexZbisexual
 

5th Sept 2020, a peninsula, Loch Sween, Argyle & Bute, Scotland. Photo: © Fiona Cameron
Its September in Northern Scotland and these specimens are presumably not still in flower but turning to fruit. They grow to a height of 60cm (up to 90cm) and are to be found all around the coastal fringes of Scotland.


5th Sept 2020, a peninsula, Loch Sween, Argyle & Bute, Scotland. Photo: © Fiona Cameron


5th Sept 2020, a peninsula, Loch Sween, Argyle & Bute, Scotland. Photo: © Fiona Cameron
The robust and ribbed stems tend to be purplish and are hollow lower down. The flowers are a greenish-white, but these specimens look like they are going or have gone to fruit. The leaves are 2-trefoil with broad and toothed leaflets with a bright-green but leathery glossy finish. Where leaf stalk meets the main stem is an inflated sheath. The plant is without hairs. It is perennial and tends to grown in tufts.

The fruits are long and oval, somewhat flattened and with ridges.



23rd Aug 2020, Findhorn, Scotland. Photo: © Maggie McCallum
A striking difference in colours between the leaves; presumably the paler green ones are newer(?). The plant is bearing fruit with the central fruit being more ripe than the others.


23rd Aug 2020, Findhorn, Scotland. Photo: © Maggie McCallum


23rd Aug 2020, Findhorn, Scotland. Photo: © Maggie McCallum
The leaves are greater than 2cm long but only 1.5cm wide; and either 1-ternate or 2-ternate (having 3 leaflets with stalked and wide leaflets, which are either unbranched or singly branched). The leaf teeth are pointed and have hydathodes at their tips in order to exude any excess water. The bracts beneath the umbel number between just 1 to several (they may have dropped off here in this fruiting specimen). There are several bracteoles beneath the umbelettes - again your Author cannot see them and they may have dropped off on this ripe specimen. The stems are ribbed with conspicuous pale-brown and dark-brown stripes.

The fruits are hairless, about twice as long as they are wide, in close pairs and between 4 and 7mm long with prominent ribs.


Not to be semantically confused with : Lovage (Levisticum officinale) [a naturalised neophyte with similar name which smells like Celery but is in a differing genus to Scots Lovage and in the same family, namely Apiaceae]

The leaves of Scots Lovage have a smell reminiscent of Celery or Parsley whilst the seeds taste of the spices Fenugreek or of Cumin. The plant is edible - one of only a few in Carrot family which are; most others are poisonous to some degree, or highly toxic in some few instances (think Henbane, Hemlock and Hemlock Water-Dropworts).

In the UK Scots Loveage only grows where the average temperature is below 15°C, which is why it is found only near the Scottish coastlines. It is pollinated mostly by flies, perhaps including by Scottish midges amongst others... The seeds ripen by October or November. The plant is intolerant to grazing and of sea birds but is not bothered by a little sprayed sea-salt in the air. Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Scottish Laburnum (Laburnum alpinum), Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), Scottish Primrose (Primula scotica), Scottish Dock (Rumex aquaticus), Scottish Pearlwort (Sagina × normaniana) or Scottish Asphodel (Tofieldia pusilla) [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

It is just one of the seemingly few umbellifers which seem to have a symmetrical actinomorphic arrangement of the 5 petals, which also reach out from the centre on narrow white parts.


It contains Sotolon, a lactone with a strong smell of Fenugreek (in which it was first discovered) or of Curry. It is also to be found in flor sherry, white wine, aged rum, maple syrup, sake and molasses. It is even used as flavouring in artificial maple syrup. This compound, which is also found in Wine, is also associated with an off-flavour of wines which results from the oxidation of Sotolon. Chemically, Sotolon is 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethyl-2(5H)-furanone.


  Ligusticum scoticum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Apiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Carrot family8Apiaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Ligusticum
Ligusticum
(Carrot)

SCOTS LOVAGE

SCOTTISH LIQUORICE-ROOT

Ligusticum scoticum

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]