Lovage / Kao ben: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about lovage

Lovage is an erect, herbaceous, and perennial plant of the Apiaceae family. The plant grows to 1.8–2.5 m tall, with a basal rosette of leaves and stems with further leaves. Topping these stems are flower clusters called umbels. Lovage flowers are yellow to greenish-yellow, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in said globose umbels up to 10–15 cm diameter.

The stems and leaves are a shiny glabrous (meaning smooth, or free from hair) green to yellow-green. When crushed lovage leaves produce a lime-like aroma. Lovage's larger basal leaves are up to 70 cm long, tripinnate, with broad triangular to rhomboidal, acutely pointed leaflets with a few marginal teeth. Whereas lovage'sstem leaves are smaller and are less divided with few leaflets.

Flowering occurs in late spring. The fruit is a dry two-parted schizocarp 4–7 mm long that matures in the autumn.

common names & nomenclature
The name lovage is from "love-ache", ache being a medieval name for parsley. The plant was often grown in monasteries or in rectories presumably giving rise to the Finnish version of the name—liperi—meaning "preacher's collar".

Also known as:
lovage, sea parsley, love root, kao ben

Lovage(Kao Ben), the parsley of the Mediterranean
Lovage / Kao ben: Where in the World
habitat and range for lovage

Lovage is said to be native to much of Europe and southwestern Asia. However, other accounts claim it to be native to only the eastern Mediterranean region in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Others still claim it to be native to southwestern Asia in Iran and Afghanistan, citing European populations as naturalized.

Lovage / Kao ben: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting lovage

Lovage can be found growing in sunny mountain pastures and hedgerows near streams, waste places, or in herb gardens.

Lovage prefers a rich moist but well-drained soil.

Sow seed in 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. Transplant the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent garden locations in the summer. Can also do division in spring or autumn.

Lovage flowers and seeds are harvested in the summer. The leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower and either distilled for their oil or dried for later use.

Lovage roots can be harvested from plants 3 years and older. They are harvested in early spring or in the autumn and are used either fresh or dried.

Store dried lovage root in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.