A tall, stout plant 5—8 x 3 ft (2-3 x 1 metre), perennial if prevented from flowering, otherwise biennal. Large, dark green leaves divided into leaflets, and flat, spreading heads of creamy white flowers in July. Origin, Northern Hemisphere, introduced 1568.
Young green stems and leaf stalks used for candying for cakes and dessert decoration, picked April-May. Leaves also sometimes used in cooking. Plant strongly flavoured in all its parts, reminiscent of juniper berries, said to be used in making the French liqueur Chartreuse. Roots recommended for medicinal use as a digestive and for blood cleansing.
Said to be named after the Archangel Michael who brought the curative properties of the plant to the notice of a monk. It was once recommended for use against the Plague, and to ward off the evil eye, spells and wizardry in general.
Put in small plants in spring and divide roots when established; seeds will distribute themselves in due course. If using seed, sow as soon as ripe in August, as viability lost very quickly, thin out when large enough to handle, or plant in permanent positions in autumn, about 1 ½ ft(45 cm) apart. Moist soil and semi-shady place preferred.