Levisticum officinale. Perennial in zones 3-9.
With an appearance similar to its celery relative, Lovage has a lovely fragrance and a sweet flavor with almost fennel-like undertones that is also reminiscent of celery, parsley, and fennel. However, Lovage really does have a flavor all its own. All parts of this plant are edible – leaves are often used in salads, leaves and stems add flavor to soups and stews, roots provide a hearty vegetable, and the flowers and seeds are used as an herb. Hollow stalks make an excellent drinking straw, perfect for Bloody Marys. Also used medicinally, as it is very aromatic – a tea of the leaves is said to aid in digestion. Lovage has been cultivated so widely for such a long time that its native range is not known – there are naturalized populations from Western Europe through Southwestern Asia. Beneficial insects love the large umbelliferous flowers. Plants can reach 5′ tall while in flower. Germination can be slow and erratic, but once established the plants take care of themselves.