Tall above the swamp stand the purple-mahogany stems of Angelica, a noble plant with an architectural beauty in the tubular stout stems and the broad clasping bases of the leaves and branches. There is an economy of growth which makes it seem that the Angelica plant has just enough leaves, just enough branches, just enough flowers. In the bright May sunshine, it spreads its blossoms; butterflies and many small flying insects are attracted to it all day long.
Angelica atropurpurea L.
May - June Swamps.
Angelica seems to need the abundant water of the swamp to nourish those stout purple stems; for the stems are large and thick and aromatic, a quality long known to mankind who has recognized Angelica as one of the choice flavorings of the world.
Candied Angelica stems are an old delicacy; angelica oil has long been a flavoring for a very special liqueur; and it has been an aromatic oil used in cordials and certain medicines. Its name was given long ago because of the "angelic" qualities of the plants and its superb flavor.
Angelica, for all its elegance, is one of the parsnips which all are aromatic is one way or another, have strong tap roots, usually stout stems (but not always) and clusters of small white, greenish, or yellow flowers in umbels at the tops of the stems. All the parsnips vary considerably in the fruits they produce - "seeds" which may superficially seem almost alike, yet it is in these that the botanists find differences to set off species from species. In the Angelica, the fruit is dry, small flattened, with three deeply set ribs marking down each side. The fruits are held in the. same formation as the flower head.