Angelica archangelica

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]

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23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Grows to 2m height on a straight and hollow usually green stem, longer than the normal up to 1.5m for Wild Angelica.

11th May 2011, Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
At last your Author has found a characteristic green specimen! This one has been probably been planted in a park, but then, Garden Angelica is not native to the UK, it is an introduced plant. Perhaps it is shadier and cooler here, away from the scorching sun at Sefton Coast where most of the other (purple) specimens were found that are shown here.

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
But this specimen is on the Sefton Coast, and has partially green stems (the upper being reddish-purple). Another difference between Garden Angelica and Wild Angelicais that the former has 3 terminal leaves but the terminal leaf of Garden Angelica is often conjoined into 3 lobes, of various shapes.

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
The stems are usually green, but can be purple, as here.

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
The umbel of umbels is usually more spherical on Garden Angelica (perhaps only hemi-spherical on Wild Angelica). They also have a greenish tinge viewed from afar (as opposed to a white or even pinkish tinge for Wild Angelica).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
The petals are greenish (white to pinkish on Wild Angelica)).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Overall greeny nature of the flowers of Garden Angelica.

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Fruits in early stage of development. On Garden Angelica the umbels usually have about 40 rays, whereas Wild Angelica usually has fewer (15-40).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
The undeveloped fruit of Garden Angelica are stubbier than the much elongated undeveloped fruit of Wild Angelica.

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Probably not an identifying feature, but here the bracteoles underneath the umbellet are many, long and narrow (if present?). The developing fruits have lost their petals but are still green with under-developed ridges.

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Fruit are stubby when still green (as opposed to much more tubular for Wild Angelica).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
An umbellet of fruits, not quite ripe.

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Un-ripe fruit from above, looking at the splayed-out white styles protruding between the stylopodium.

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Viewed from above, the depth (in this photo measured top to bottom - follow the curved styles) of the fruits of Garden Angelica are wider than those of Wild Angelica which are very thin.

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Showing the wide(ish) depth of the fruit looking directly at the two wings. The fruits are about 6mm long.

2nd July 2011, River Alt, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Showing the width of the fruit (the wings do not extend far in comparison to the extended wings of Wild Angelica). Looking directly at the three ribs (which are like a small central-heating radiator).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
One of the wildflower books says that the broad sheaths under stem junctions is green but another books says it is purple on Garden Angelica (both books say purple for Wild Angelica).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Sheaths are terminated by leaves in triplets, sometimes twice pinnate as here (same for both Wild and Garden Angelica).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
The leaflets on the stem above the inflated sheaths.

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Base of leaves are asymmetric on both Wild and Garden Angelicas. The leaf terminations are also always have tri-lobed on both species, but the leaves are only occasionally 3-paired on Garden Angelica (always 3-paired on Wild Angelica).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
The veins of the leaves are green (they are often purplish on Wild Angelica).

23rd June 2015, River Mersey, Runcorn. Photo: © RWD
Leaves coarsely and sharply toothed (as opposed to finely toothed for Wild Angelica). The leaves also have a much higher length to width ratio than those on Wild Angelica.

2nd July 2015, a stream, near Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
It is thought by the panel that the top and centre layer of leaves ar those of Garden Angelica [the smaller leaves below those are of the differing umbellifer Hemlock Water-Dropwort]. This is Garden Angelicas first year (of the two that it grows for). The leaves on Garden Angelica are 2- or 3-pinnate.

2nd July 2015, a stream, near Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are deeply cut and have a triplet at the end conjoined part-way to two side-lobes, but otherwise very variable in shape. There are usually between 3 and 4 sets of leaves branching off from a leafy branch.

2nd July 2015, a stream, near Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A leaflet in close-up [those below it are of Hemlock Water-Dropwort]. The leaves are often irregularly lobed, and the terminal triplet usually a bit conjoined.

Not to be semantically confused with : Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) [a plant with similar common name to the scientific name of Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica)]

Easily mistaken for : Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) to which it is closely related. See captions for most differences. The most identifying feature to distinguish between Wild Angelica and Garden Angelica are the ripe (brown) fruits - the wings of Wild Angelica are very wide (much wider than those of Garden Angelica) and the overall length of the fruit is 20% longer in Wild Angelica, but then, ripe fruit are not found until late summer. Moreover, the wings of the fruits on Wild Angelica have a thin white membranous edge. And the shape of the leaves of Garden Angelica are longer and narrower than those of Wild Angelica. The flowers of Garden Angelica are greenish, whereas those on Wild Angelica are white or pinkish.

It is a biennial plant taking a couple of years to mature with seeds and then dies off.

The fruits of Garden Angelica are said to smell of Celery (as do those of Wild Angelica), but the smell is much more aromatic, pervading the surrounding air with a musky juniperish odour. It's claim to fame are the bright-green candied stems variously called 'crystallized angelica' or 'candied angelica' and used to decorate cakes. Candied Angelica is made by boiling the stems in sugar syrup - they taste most unusual. The stems can also be cooked with rhubarb or apple to make pies or crumbles. Wild Angelica will not do. Needless to say, correct identification is paramount; so many similar umbellifers are toxic.

It is not native to the UK but escapes from gardens into the wild especially on the banks of rivers, canals and other dampish places and waste ground. It is very aromatic with a huge variety of odorous compounds within the essential oil, including many monoterpenes and sesquiterpenoids.

Grizzled Skipper
Small Copper


Garden Angelica contains well over seven furocoumarins which include at least two linear (Bergapten and Psoralen) and at least four rarer angular furocoumarins (Angelicin and Archangelicin which are both named after the plant in which they were first discovered, Sphondin and Pimpellinin).

Angelicin is the simplest angular furocoumarine. Sphondin has one methoxy group (on the 6th position) whereas Pimpinellin has two methoxy groups, one on the 5th position, another at the 6th.

ArchAngelicin, on the other hand, is based upon Angelicin but with two extra Angelic Acid moieties attached to the furan ring.

Anomalin is not a furocoumarin, but a modified Coumarin with a 6-membered ring in place of the 5-membered furan ring. It is thus a Pyrano-Coumarin. It also has two extra Angelic Acid moieties attached in equivalent positions to Archangelicin. Anomalin was first found in Angelica anomala from which it was named after, and which is native to China and used in Chinese medicine. Anomalin should not be confused with a similarly-named Anomalin-A which is a Tetra-Hydroxy-MethylXanthenone.

Shown for completeness (for these are not coumarins or furocoumarins but rather organic acids): the small Angelic Acid is also found in Angelica plants. Angelic Acid is an unsaturated mono-carboxylic acid found in Angelicas and in other members of the Umbellifer Family (Apiaceae). It is a solid.

Chemically Angelic Acid is the trans-isomer of 2-Methyl-2-Butenoic Acid, but the cis-isomer of the latter has a differing name: Tiglic Acid. Tiglic Acid is found in the seeds of Croton tiglium - a non-native tree belonging to the Spurge Family (Euphorbiaceae) and from which the toxic Croton Oil is produced - toxic because it also contains Phorbol Esters). [Tiglic Acid is not found in Angelica plants, as far as your Author can ascertain]. Whereas Tiglic Acid has a sweet warm and spicy flavour, Angelic Acid has a sharp taste with a pungent and sour odour. What a difference the shape of a molecule can make.

Other coumarins found in Garden Angelica are Osthol whilst other FuroCoumarins are IsoPimpinellin, Xanthotoxin, Imperatorin, Phellopterin, Oxypeucadenin Hydrate and several derivatives of Heraclenol. The roots contain Apterin, the glycoside of the angular furocoumarin Vaginol, which is a dihydrofurocoumarin as well as Marmesinin, being the glycoside of Marmesin, a linear furocoumarin.


The essential oil contained in the fruits includes Myristic Acid (aka TetraDecanoic Acid), a saturated fatty acid of formula CH3(CH2)12COOH, as well as several monoterpenes one of which is said to be β-tereBangelene, C10H16 but no structural formula for this is to be found on the internet (Jan 2016), but there are only a finite (but well over 50)  Google-Search C10H16) possible different structures that this could possibly be - one including Adamantane (although if that author meant that, he would surely have said so). However, Terpinolene is claimed to be present in Garden Angelica, and this is a C10H16 compound, perhaps this is β-tereBangelene? But then so is 3-Carene. Both of these are shown below.

The essential oil is also said to contain:
α-Pinene, β-Pinene, Camphene, Sabinene, α-Phellandrene, β-Phellandrene, Bornyl Acetate, β-Bisabolene, Copaene, Cryptone, cis-Ocimene, Trans-Ocimene, Humulene oxide, Limonene, Myrcene, TriDecanolide, 15-PentaDecanolide (see below), para-Cymene, rho-Cymenol, Terpinolene (aka δ-Terpinene) and Terpinenol.

Another source says the major terpenoid compounds in the root oils were 19-42% α-Pinene, 21-28% (+)-Sabinene and 22% (+)-3-Carene in one sample, but 0% in another sample. Whereas the oil from the seeds contained >60% β-Phellandrene, with other significant components (+)-Sabinene, α-Pinene, Myrcene, (-)-α-Phellandrene, (-)-α-Pinene and (-)-Limonene.

The composition will indubitably vary with growing conditions and climate in the growing seasons and with the presence of any pathogens which the plant may have to defend itself against by producing obnoxious chemicals, which it need not waste energy producing when any pathogens or predators are absent.

Any of the above compounds which lack a link to the page showing them are depicted below.

Some specimens contain about 1%-2% Zingiberene, the sesquiterpene found in Ginger being the compound which gives Ginger its distinctive taste. In the essential oils of Ginger it comprises up to 30%, but in Garden Angelica only 1.3% - 1.9%. Another pungent and this time hot-tasting component of Ginger is the fairly similar compound Zingerone which has a resemblance to Capsaicin, the hot component in Chilis, but Zingerone does not occur in Wild Angelica.

Note the resemblance to another compound found in Garden Angelica, namely α-Bisabolene. Bisabolene is a sesquiterpene which is found in the essential oil of several plants such as Oregano and Lemon. It acts as a pheromone to several insects such as Fruit Flies and Stink Bugs.

Terpinen-4-ol is found in the essential oil derived from the non-natives Nutmeg and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) where it occurs as the main component and in Juniper (Juniperus communis) which is thought to be why Juniper wood used as fence posts are highly resistant to rotting. It exhibits anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Terpinolene aka δ-Terpinene is one of over 50 different C10H16 compounds and is also found in the non-native tree Monterey Cypress. There are 3 more isomers of Terpinene, α-, β- and γ-Terpinene. Only the δ-isomer shown has the name Terpinolene. It is a monoterpene and is found in several plants, as is γ-Terpinene (Cumin) and α-Terpinene (Cardamon, Hemp and Marjoram). β-Terpinene is the only one not found in any plants.

Cryptone is a sesquiterpene ketone and is found in Lavender, amongst many other aroma compounds. Your Author wonders if it is also found in the tree Eucalyptus cryptone because of a nomenclature similarity/coincidence?

Cymenol has many isomers, depending whereabouts the hydroxy moiety is attached. Thymol is one such isomer, with the -OH attached directly to the ring. Your Author thinks this is the structure of ρ-Cymenol, perhaps the original reader misread p-Cymenol (para-Cymenol) as ρ-Cymenol, because the 'p' character could be mistaken as the Greek 'rho' character (ρ). p-Cymenol aka para-Cymenol aka Cymen-8-ol is a pale-yellow flammable liquid and an alcohol. It has an odour similar to Celery.

Carene, aka δ-3-Carene and α-Carene, is a bicyclic monoterpene containing a strained cyclopropane ring and is found in Rosemary and in Turpentine amongst many other substances. It has a pungent but sweet pine wood or cedar wood aroma. It is one of over 50 different C10H16 compounds.

α-Copaene is a strained tricyclic sesquiterpene, an oily liquid found in several plants including the resin-producing tropical tree Copaiba (Copaifera langsdorfii), from which it was first found in 1914 and from which it obtains its name. The Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata finds the aroma of this compound strongly attracting and is used to entrap the flies to keep them away from fruits.

Humulene Oxide is Humulene (as found in Hops) with one of the double-bonds made into a single bond with a bridging epoxy oxygen atom. Humulene is another macrocyclic molecule, albeit containing only 11 atoms in the main ring.


Squeezed seeds of Garden Angelica ooze macrocyclic lactones into the resulting oil which are very pleasantly fragrant. The seeds (and the roots) contain both the 12-R-(+)- and the 12-S-(-)- isomers of 12-Methyl-13-TriDecanolide plus the larger 15-Pentadecanolide, the latter being one of the most important fragrances in the perfume industry. The oil is also used to flavour the alcoholic liqueur Chartreuse / Green Chartreuse. Because the molecules can flex and twist, they are sometimes drawn with differing shapes, but it isn't the shape which matters.

TriDecanolide is also found in Garden Angelica, illustrating the differing shapes in which saturated macrocyclic molecules can be drawn - c.f. the Methyl-TriDecanolide drawing immediately above - apart from the extra methyl group, the two are equivalent.

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Angelica archangelica

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]