Lovage (*Levisticum officinale*), also known as the maggi plant and smellage, is a green perennial herb from Southern Europe in the Mediterranean region. Its use dates back at least as far as Roman times in the Ligurian region of Italy. Lovage gradually spread to other parts of the continent—and, eventually, to the Americas—due to its culinary and medicinal herb value.\n\nLovage is similar in appearance to parsley and celery, which also belong to the *Apiaceae* family. All parts of the plant are edible, with subtle flavor variations between each. The leaves have a celery flavor but a potent, sweet edge and a hint of citrus that’s comparable to parsley. Lovage stalks taste faintly of anise or fennel. \n\nIt’s easy to grow this perennial plant in moderate climates. You can grow lovage from seed or propagate by root division:\n\n1. __Sow the seeds in your herb garden__. If starting from seed, direct-sow onto the prepared soil of your garden in the spring, once the soil temperature has reached sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle sand over the area where the seeds have dropped. You can also germinate the seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings to the garden in late spring, after the last frost.\n2. __Propagate a lovage plant__. If going the root division route, you’ll first need a fully-grown lovage plant. Since lovage has deep, robust roots, dig a hole that’s about a foot deep and as wide as the crown of the mature plant. Once the whole plant has been dug up, separate about half the roots from the original root ball. Transplant the roots into a section of prepared soil in your garden.\nMature lovage plants can reach six feet in height, with a thirty-two-inch spread. Follow these tips to grow healthy lovage plants:\n\n1. __Plant lovage in an area that gets full sun__. Be sure to plant lovage in a place where it will get a good deal of light. Partial sun will work in warmer climates, but full sun is ideal. \n2. __Keep the soil moist__. Lovage grows best in sandy, loamy, well-draining soil, with a [pH](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/essential-guide-to-soil-ph-guide) of about 6.5. Water as often as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy; this could be every day, every other day, or longer if you live in a humid climate. The plants will reach maturity around three years after planting. \n3. __Prune your lovage plant__. Pruning once in the middle of the growing season will help your lovage thrive. Lovage produces yellow flowers, which eventually turn brown, a sign the plant has set seed. The seeds are edible and can harvest them by removing the entire plant heads and drying them in a paper bag.\nLovage is a highly versatile herb. Consider the following ways to use the leaves, stalks, and seeds in your cooking:\n\n- __Lovage leaves__: In the kitchen, you can add lovage leaves to many of the same dishes that call for parsley: grilled or roasted meats, casseroles, rich stews, hearty or light soups. \n- __Lovage stalks__: You can use the lovage stalks like celery—add chopped stalks into egg salad or chicken salad, to a chicken stock, or preserve them whole by pickling. \n- __Lovage seeds__: The seeds, known as celery seeds, are the most potent part of the plant. Use them like fennel seeds or to flavor liqueurs. You can also crush them and add them to spice mixes. \n\nYou can preserve lovage like [other herbs](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-store-fresh-herbs): dry in a dehydrator or freeze to extend the shelf life. The dried leaves won’t be as vivid as the fresh but can add flavor to various meals.\nEssential oils from lovage seeds are often added to other herbal remedy preparations and supplements. Lovage is a diuretic that is used as a carminative and to treat jaundice, sore throats, and kidney stones. As a tincture or salve, it is used to treat conditions like acne or psoriasis. However, its efficacy and side-effects are unknown, and it has been reported to be unsafe for children, pregnant people, and people who are breastfeeding. Consult your physician before consuming lovage. \n\nGrow your own garden with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.\nLearn about lovage, a lesser-known leafy green herb.