Angelica is a genus of about 60 species of tall biennial and perennial herbs in the family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae (which also contains, amongst may others, parsley, carrots, cumin, fennel and coriander). They are native to temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, reaching as far North as Iceland and Lapland. They grow to 1-3 m tall, with large bipinnate leaves and large compound umbels of white or greenish-white flowers.
Angelica is unique amongst the Umbelliferae for its pervading aromatic odour, a pleasant perfume entirely different from fennel, parsley, anise, caraway or chervil. One old writer compares it to musk, others liken it to juniper. Even the roots are fragrant, and form one of the principal aromatics of European growth - the other parts of the plant have the same flavour, but their active principles are considered more perishable.
Archangelica comes from the Greek word "arkhangelos" (=arch-angel), due to the myth that it was the angel Gabriel who told of its use as medicine.
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