Angelica archangelica

Angelica archangelica L. [syn.: Archangelica officinalis (Moench) Hoffmann] (N-Eur., W-Siberia) – A locally naturalized and increasing alien, apparently an escape from (former) cultivation. Already known in the first half of the 19th century in Belgium but most early collections probably refer to cultivated specimens (in or near gardens). Angelica archangelica was first recorded as a naturalized alien in the valley of river Sambre, at first in the surroundings of Lobbes, Aulne and Landelies (from the 1950’s onwards) (Saintenoy-Simon 1996). In 1960 it was first detected as an escape in the Kempen (valley of river Mark near Minderhout). In the past decades it is much extending its distribution range and by now is commonly naturalized along rivers Leie and Schelde (occasionally and much less abundant elsewhere). In the Vlaamse Ardennen (in the area between rivers Leie and Schelde) Angelica archangelica is still locally cultivated on a small scale and apparently escaped. At present it can be found in large parts of Belgium, especially in Flanders (see here for an up-to-date distribution map: In Wallonia it is still most frequent in the valley of river Sambre. Angelica archangelica is usually found on damp, nitrophilous, often flooded soils along rivers and canals, in ditches, etc. It has also been observed recently in road verges along motorways (for instance along E403 motorway between Lichtervelde and Torhout). This appears to be a much less appropriate habitat (drier and regularly mown) but even here Angelica archangelica is thriving well and is expanding. Motorways could become a further migration route for this species in Belgium (and beyond).
Angelica archangelica is a fast spreading neophyte in natural or semi-natural habitats in Belgium. However, so far it does not seem to out-compete native species. Native status has been suggested for this species but this seems very unlikely.
Angelica archangelica is a fairly variable species, especially with regard to fruit characters (size, shape of ridges, etc.). In Scandinavia, its area of origin, two subspecies are usually accepted, subsp. archangelica from mountain regions and subsp. litoralis (Fries) Thell. from coastal areas. The former has longer bractlets and larger fruits with more acute ridges but intermediate forms seem to occur. Exactly such intermediate forms are usually cultivated (Fröberg 2010). Claims of subsp. litoralis from northwestern France (Calais) are probably erroneous (Lambinon & Verloove 2012, Tison & de Foucault 2014).

Selected literature:

Boedeltje G. (1991) Moerasmelkdistel (Sonchus palustris L.) en Grote engelwortel (Angelica archangelica L.) langs het Twentekanaal: indicatoren van gebiedsvreemd water. Gorteria 17: 138-149. [available online at:]
Daşkın R. & Kaynak G. (2012) Angelica archangelica (Apiaceae), a new species to Turkey: a contribution to its taxonomy and distribution. Phytologia Balcanica 18(1): 5-9. [available online at:]
Fröberg L. (2010) Angelica. In: Jonsell B. & Karlsson T. (eds.), Flora Nordica, vol. 6. The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm [available online at:]
Hendrych R. (1998) History of Archangelica officinalis in Bohemia (in Czech). Preslia 70(4): 313-334.
Jackowiak B. & Grabherr G. (1990) Zur Ausbreitung von Angelica archangelica L. an der Donau in Wien. Verh. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Österreich 127: 113-122. [available online at:]
Jehlík V. & Rostański K. (1975) Angelica archangelica subsp. litoralis auch in der Tsechoslowakei. Preslia 47(2): 145-157.
Katenhusen O. (1997) Hochstaudenfluren der Echten Engelwurz (Angelica archangelica L.) und der Sumpf-Gaensedistel (Sonchus palustris L.) als Besiedler von Gruenlandbrachen in der Fuhseniederung (Ldkr. Hannover). Beiträge zur Naturkunde Niedersachsens 50(4): 153-162.
Keil P. (1999) Ökologie der gewässerbegleitenden Agriophyten Angelica archangelica ssp. litoralis, Bidens frondosa und Rorippa austriaca im Ruhrgebiet. Berlin, Kramer: 186 p.
Lambinon J. & Verloove F. (avec coll. Delvosalle L., Toussaint B., Geerinck D., Hoste I., Van Rossum F., Cornier B., Schumacker R., Vanderpoorten A. & Vannerom H.) (2012) Nouvelle Flore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des Régions voisines (Ptéridophytes et Spermatophytes). Sixième édition. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise: CXXXIX + 1195 p.
Ojala A. (1984) Variation of Angelica archangelica subsp. archangelica (Apiaceae) in northern Fennoscandia, 1. Variation in fruit morphology. Ann. Bot. Fenn. 21: 103-115.
Ojala A. (1985) Seed dormancy and germination in Angelica archangelica subsp. archangelica (Apiaceae). Ann. Bot. Fenn. 22: 53-62. 
Ojala A. (1985) Variation of Angelica archangelica subsp. archangelica (Apiaceae) in northern Fennoscandia, 2. Phenological life strategy and reproductive output. Ann. Bot. Fenn. 22: 183-194. 
Ojala A. (1986) Variation of Angelica archangelica subsp. archangelica (Apiaceae) in northern Fennoscandia, 3. Interpopulational variation in reproductive and life-history characters. Ann. Bot. Fenn. 23: 11-21. 
Ojala A. (1986) Variation of Angelica archangelica subsp. archangelica (Apiaceae) in northern Fennoscandia, 4. Pattern of geographic variation. Ann. Bot. Fenn. 23: 23-31. 
Saintenoy-Simon J. (ed.) (1996) Trouvailles floristiques récentes en Wallonie, dans le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg et dans le nord de la France. Adoxa 13-14: 1-52.
Tison J.-M. & de Foucault B. (coord.) 2014) Flora Gallica. Flore de France. Editions Biotope, Mèze : xx + 1196 p.
Verloove F. (2002) Ingeburgerde plantensoorten in Vlaanderen. Mededeling van het Instituut voor Natuurbehoud n° 20: 227 p.
Verloove F. (2006) Angelica archangelica. In: Van Landuyt W., Hoste I., Vanhecke L., Van den Bremt P., Vercruysse W. & De Beer D., Atlas van de flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest. Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, Nationale Plantentuin van België en Flo.Wer: 140-141.
Vogel A. (1988) Angelica archangelica - Hochstaudenfluren auf Island - natuerlich oder anthropogen. Flora 180: 19-29.
Walter E. (2000) Die Arznei-Engelwurz (Angelica archangelica L.) in Oberfranken - Vorkommen und Ausbreitung. Ber. Naturforsch. Ges. Bamberg 74: 27-44.
Weber H.E. (1987)Die Ausbreitung der Erzengelwurz (Angelica archangelica L.) und ihres Hochstaudenroehrichts (Convolvulo-Archangelietum) im Raum Osnabrueck. Osnabrücker naturwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen 13: 71-76.
Weinert E. (1973) Die taxonomische Stellung und das Areal von Angelica archangelica L. und A. lucida L. Feddes Repert. 84(4): 303-313.

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