Angelica L.

As currently understood Angelica is a genus with ca. 90-110 species native to the northern hemisphere (Mabberley 2008; much less according to other authors). The genus is particularly well represented in China where about half of the species are known to occur (32 of them endemic) (Zehui & Watson 2005). The genus includes Archangelica N.M. Wolf and other segregates like Ostericum Hoffmann, although some of these might turn out to be distinct (Mabberley 2008). The classification of Angelica and related genera is complex and controversial. A comprehensive revision, including analyses of DNA sequence data, is needed before any major changes to the traditional classification can be accepted (Zehui & Watson 2005). However, recent preliminary molecular studies, mostly based on Far Eastern species, demonstrate that taxonomic realignments will be required, as many species of Angelica fall outside of Angelica s.str. Also, the results obtained are significantly different from traditional treatments of Angelica s.l. (Liao & al. 2013). For instance, molecular data clearly separate a strongly supported ‘Archangelica clade’ that is represented by Archangelica officinalis (the type of the genus Archangelica; syn.: Angelica archangelica), two additional species of Archangelica, and the North American species Angelica ampla A. Nelson (Liao & al. 2013). Morphological synapomorphies (e.g., the vittae of Archangelica are quite small, almost encircling and adhering to the seed), serve to distinguish Archangelica from all other members of Angelica s.l. (Liao & al. 2013). These multiple lines of evidence suggest that Archangelica would perhaps better be maintained as an independent genus, distinct from Angelica s.str. Pending confirmation, a more conservative classification is adopted here.
One species, Angelica sylvestris L., is a common native species in Belgium. Only few species of Angelica have some economic value, as ornamentals (Knees & Sinclair 1997), as a minor crop plant (e.g. A. archangelica) or for traditional medicinal purposes. Three additional species, A. dahurica (Fischer ex Hoffmann) Bentham & J. D. Hooker ex Franchet & Savatier, A. decursiva (Miquel) Franchet & Savatier and A. sinensis (Oliver) Diels are widely cultivated in Asia where the roots are used as an important traditional Chinese medicine (Zehui & Watson 2005). Out of these, the first is a stout perennial like A. archangelica and may have been overlooked in western Europe.

1    Peduncles and rays subequal, nearly glabrous. Petals greenish white. Fruit 6-8 mm long with thick, corky wings. Petiole of leaves terete, +/- inflated. Plant yellowish-green with strong smell. Umbels almost globular === Angelica archangelica
    Peduncles and rays unequal, more or less pubescent throughout. Petals white or pinkish-white. Fruit 4-6 mm long (rarely more) with narrow, membranous wings. Petiole of leaves canaliculate. Plant dull green with weak smell. Umbels not globular (native) === A. sylvestris


Bernard C. (1990) Carpologie comparée de quelques espèces françaises et Scandinaves du genre Angelica L. Rev. Cytol. Biol. Vég. Botaniste 13: 89-107. 
Cannon J. (1968) Angelica. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds), Flora Europaea, vol. 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 357-358.
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Gutierrez Bustillo A.M. (1981) Revisión del género Angelica L. (Umbelliferae) en la Peninsula Ibérica. Lazaroa 3: 137-161. [available online at:
Knees S.G. & Sinclair N.J. (1997) Angelica. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 410-411.
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Liao C., Downie S.R., Li Q., Yu Y., He X. & Zhou B. (2013) New Insights into the Phylogeny of Angelica and its Allies (Apiaceae) with Emphasis on East Asian Species, Inferred from nrDNA, cpDNA, and Morphological Evidence. Syst. Bot. 38: 266-281. [available online at:]
Mabberley D.J. (2008) Mabberley’s plant-book (3th ed.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XVIII + 1021 p.
Pimenov M.G. & Kljuykov E.V. (2003) Notes on some Sino-Himalayan species of Angelica and Ostericum (Umbelliferae). Willdenowia 33(1): 121-137. [available online at:
Qin H.Z., Li B.Y., Wu Z.J. & Pan Z.H. (1995) On the fruit anatomy of Angelica L. (s.l.) of East Asia and North America and its evolution. Acta Botanica Boreali-Occidentalia Sinica 15: 48-54.
Shishkin B.K. (1974) Angelica L. and Archangelica. In: Shishkin B.K. (ed.), Flora of USSR, vol. 17: 11-33. Translated from Russian by the Israel Program Scientific Translations Ltd, Jerusalem. [available online at:]
Vasil'eva M.G. & Pimenov M.G. (1991) Karyotaxonomical analysis of the genus Angelica (Umbelliferae). Pl. Syst. Evol. 177: 117-138.
Xue H.J., Yan M.H., Lu C.M., Wang N.H. & Wu G.R. (2007) Taxonomic study of Angelica  from East Asia: Inferences from ITS sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA (in Chinese). Acta Phytotax. Sin. 45(6): 783-795.
Zehui P. & Watson M.F. (2005) Angelica. In: Sheh M.L. & al. (eds.), Flora of China, vol. 14. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, Missouri: 158-169. [available online at:]

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith