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December 8, 2016 Back to Picks >

Lovage is an under-used member of the celery family — it deserves to be discovered by many more Texas gardeners. Its culture in our area differs somewhat from its native areas, but lovage is still a most valuable and much-loved culinary herb around these parts among those who have made its acquaintance.

It forms a clump, rather than a parsley-type mound, of lovely fresh green leaves atop rather tall stems, and is a very pretty addition to the flower garden. A great look is to tuck it in among the blooming spring posies.

The flavor of lovage is subtle and complex, making it a bit difficult to describe. There is the slightest hint of anise to it, but also a bit of the celery cousin. Maybe even a touch of parsley. Try it once in a tuna or chicken salad, and you�ll never want to be without its delicate, but rich flavor. In France, lovage is considered a must for all kinds of soups and stews.

Plant lovage in high shade starting in the fall through spring. It may go dormant in freezing weather, but will come back from the roots like the perennial it is. In England, lovage can be three feet in height, but in our area, it usually reaches roughly 18 inches. The stems are hollow, so they can be used as straws in tomato-based summer drinks like Bloody Marys, or blanched and eaten as celery.

Don�t be disappointed if your lovage disappears in mid-July. Our summer heat defeats it, so we consider it an annual around here — but new plants will be available again come fall.