Botanical name: Angelica dahurica
Common name: Angelica root
Family: Apiaceae, parsley family
Part used in Chinese medicine: root
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Releases exterior, dries dampness, unblocks nasal passages,
Angelica is a genus of about 50 species including both Angelica dahurica (Bai Zhi) and the better know Angelica sinensis, or Dang Gui. Angleica dahurica is native to damp habitats and thickets in the mountains of Siberia, Japan and Korea, and though the root of the plant is used for Chinese medicine purposes, the leaves are also edible.
Growing and Propagation
The plant is very aromatic, growing to 8 feet tall, with a hollow stem and large 3-branched leaves. It blooms in the summer with many large white flower heads but is only reliably perennial if it is prevented from setting seed by cutting off the flower before they bloom in full. Angelica prefers fertile, loamy, moist soil and a location with full sun to light shade.
To propagate, seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe since the seed only has a short viability. It can also be sown in the spring, though germination rates will be lower. The seedlings should be grown in individual pots in a cold frame for their first winter, then planted into the garden in the spring.
Harvesting and Preparation
For medicinal use, good quality Bai Zhi has large roots that are gray or yellowish brown on the outside with a white, starchy interior. The herb is very aromatic and should have a strong fragrance.