This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
At West Wittering in Sussex this plant has been found in beds of Interglacial age, when the rigour of the Glacial period was much modified by a milder interlude. It is found to-day in the North Temperate and Arctic Zones in Arctic Europe, Siberia, up to Dahuria, and West Asia. In Great Britain it is widespread and common, existing at the high altitude of 2700 ft. in the Highlands.
Angelica is almost entirely a plant of low-lying ground, that is, where there is continual moisture and shade, growing in woods at a low elevation, or on moist mountain heights, where the conditions are sufficiently humid. It may also be found on the borders of streams and in marshes, but always where there is more or less shelter from the sun.
The plant is erect in habit. The stem is stout, tall, rather downy above, near the umbels, but otherwise hairless, green or purplish, hollow, furrowed. The leaves are triangular in outline, much divided, that is ternately. The leaflets are large, bipinnate, equally toothed, stalked, obliquely oblong to egg-shaped, lance-shaped, equal, or cut, and not running down the stem. They may be rather heart-shaped at the base. The lateral leaflets are somewhat unequal below. The sheaths are large. The flowerheads are pinkish-white, in large, terminal compound umbels, with 30-40 rays. There are no, or few (1-2), bracts which fall. But there are a few awl-like, persistent, small bracteoles. The calyx-lobes are small or wanting. The petals are slightly hooded. The florets are nearly regular. The fruit is egg-shaped, flattened along the back, the carpels ridged, winged. The slender styles are bent over.
Angelica is often as much as 5-6 ft. high. The flowering season is from June to August. The plant is a deciduous, herbaceous perennial, reproduced by division. It ought to be cultivated in our gardens.
The flowers are numerous, white or purplish, and more or less conspicuous. The pollen is abundant. There is also honey. The flowers are complete, and the anthers mature first. On some the anthers are rudimentary. The styles are turned back, and the plant is sweet-scented and attracts many insects to it, so that it has more chance of being cross- than self-pollinated. The insects that visit it are Syritta pipiens, Helophilus, Eristalis, Pipizella, Tachina, Echinomyia, Mesembrina, Scatophaga, Lucilia, Sarcophaga, Antlire-nus, Trichius, Telephorus, Coccinella, Meligethes, Athalia, Tenthredo, Ichneumons, Crabro, Philan-this, Odynerus, Vespa, Andrena, Argynnis, and a Neuropterous insect Panorpa.
The fruit, being flattened and margined, is blown away with ease by the wind. The fruits are semi-detached on ripening, and they may also be knocked off by passing animals.
This plant is a humus-loving plant requiring a soil in which there is a fair amount of humus.
The fungi Plasmopora nivea and Protomyces macrosporus infest it. A beetle Lixus turbatus, the Lepidoptera, Swallow Tail Butterfly (Papilio machaon), Triple Spot Pug (Eupithecia trisignata), Depressaria angelicella feed on it, and also Depressaria ciliella and Cecophora flavimaculella.
Angelica, Brunfels, is Latin for angelic, the reference being to supposed properties of a magical kind, and the second Latin name refers to its woodland habitat.
Angelica is called Ait-skeiters, Ground Ash, Ground Elder, Hem lock, Jack-jump-about, Jeelico, Keck, Kecks, Keks, Kex, Trumpet Keck, Kelk-Kecksy, Water Kesh, Kewsies Kesk, Skytes.
Photo. B Hanley - Angelica (angelica Sylvestris, L.)
The first name is for oat-shooters. Children shoot oats through the hollow stems as peas are shot through a pea-shooter. Parkinson says: " In Sussex they call the wilde kinde (of Angelica) Kex, and the weavers winde their yarne on the dead stalks". It is called Trumpet Keck because the hollow stems of this plant are made by boys into trumpets.
" Trumpet-kecks are passed unheeded by Whose hollow stalks inspired such eager joy."
This plant was considered especially noisome to witches. It was called Herb of the Holy Ghost from the angel-like properties therein being considered good "against poisons, pestilent agues, or the pestilence ". Angelica was used as a cure for bites of dogs and hydrophobia, as well as an antidote for poisons. A yellow dye of a good colour is derived from it. The stems are candied with sugar and used as sweetmeats or put in cakes. The root and the fruit have been utilized as a tonic, and are aromatic and stimulant.
Essential Specific Characters: 130. Angelica sylvestris, L. - Stem tall, ribbed, hollow, purple, downy, leaves bipinnate, leaflets ovate, serrate, flowers in large umbels, whitish-pink, carpels 5-ribbed.