Herb: Lovage

Latin name: Levisticum officinale

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Lovage:

Lovage is a warming and tonic herb for the digestive and respiratory systems. It is used primarily in the treatment of indigestion, poor appetite, wind, colic and bronchitis. The roots, leaves and fruits are antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, mildly expectorant and stimulant. They are used internally in the treatment of disordered stomachs, especially cases of colic and flatulence in children, kidney stones, cystitis, painful menstruation and slow labour. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of sore throats and aphthous ulcers. The roots of plants 3 years old can be harvested in early spring or in the autumn and are used fresh or dried. The leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower and either distilled for their oil or dried for later use. The leaves, either eaten in salads or dried and infused as a tea, have been used as an emmenagogue. The essential oil from the seeds is used by aromatherapists to remove freckles and spots from the face.

Description of the plant:


180 cm
(6 feet)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Arable land and waste places in damp soils. Mountain pastures and hedgerows near streams.

Edible parts of Lovage:

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked. Used as a savoury flavouring in salads, soups, stews etc, imparting a yeasty/celery flavour. The leaves can be used fresh or dried and are available from late winter until late autumn. To ensure a good supply of the leaves in the summer, it is best to cut the plants down to the ground when flowering in the summer. The young stem can be blanched and used like celery in salads or as a savoury flavouring in cooked foods. Seed - raw or cooked. A strong yeasty flavour, it is used as a flavouring in cakes, soups, salads etc. It can be used whole or ground into a powder. Root - cooked. A strong savoury taste, it can be used as a flavouring or cooked as a vegetable. It is best grated. Best used when 2 - 3 years old. Flowers. No more details are given. A tea is made from the dried leaves. A strong savoury flavour, it tastes more like a broth. A tea can also be made from the grated roots. An essential oil from the root is used commercially as a food flavouring. Yields of 0.5% are obtained.

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.

Propagation of Lovage:

Seed - sow spring or early autumn in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate so it is probably best sown as soon as it is ripe. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. This can be quite hard work due to the size of the roots but the plant grows away very well afterwards. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Arable land and waste places in damp soils. Mountain pastures and hedgerows near streams.

Known hazards of Levisticum officinale:

Lovage is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.