Black Lovage – Alexanders – Smyrnium olusatrum
If you are looking for a plant that works well in shade as an ornamental, as well as source of food, then Black Lovage could be it.
It has been used as medicinal herb since Roman times, however it is more often used as a culinary herb or leafy green. It can be used as a parsley substitute, the seeds have a warm peppery taste and it does come into growth early in the season.
Also known simply as Alexanders, and sometimes Horse parsley, the botanical name is Smyrnium olusatrum. The foliage is the main part used as a food source, and it tastes a little like celery.
The ornamental side of the plant is the foliage, as well as the flower stalk it sends up in early autumn. It could be grown in conduction with angelica, it does look similar with its umbrellas of flowers on tall stems and it is related.
The flowers are a yellow to green and are followed by black seed pods, it is the seed pods that give the plant one of its common names..
Although this is a biennial, it will self seed in cooler climates.
The whole plant including leaves, tender leaf stalks, shoots, and roots are all used as vegetables, they are used in soups and stews.
The flower buds are used in salads. The seeds are sometimes ground and used as a spice.
Plant in light shade in a humus rich soil.
Water regularly through spring and summer with a liquid seaweed fertiliser.
Black Lovage plants are available for sale from the following nurseries
Medicinal, Teas and Kitchen Herbs. Edible plants, scented and ornamentals.
Wide range of perennial edibles and medicinals, berries, fruit and unusual food plants, by mail order.