what it is? the oddball biennial, angelica gigas

IT’S THE PLANT THAT MAKES ME THINK OF Mark Knopfler singing “What It Is,” or (going back a little farther) the 1970s expression of greeting and black solidarity. What it is, above? It is Angelica gigas, blooming this last month and showing no sign of stopping anytime soon.

To succeed with Angelica gigas, you need to get it started in a spot that’s at least part shade, and where the soil isn’t too dry. And you need something more: You need two “generations” of genetic material, both a one-year seedling and also a batch of seed.

Since it’s biennial–meaning blooming in its second year, and simply producing foliage its first–you also need to keep a strict eye on the spot where you spread those seeds. They’ll be tiny sprouts at first, if all goes well, easy to overlook and inadvertently rake up during spring cleanup. Mark off the area where you sowed them the previous fall, and let them be.

There’s a full profile and more photos here on this oddball, chest-high wonder that always has late-summer garden visitors asking, What it is? Enjoy…or just sing along:

no comments
August 31, 2010


  1. says

    thanks for the tune ~ I love it! I also love this plant you are showing off. Your show and tells are always interesting and I usually learn something new. The color of this is to-die-for. I’ve never seen it, and now it’s another thing I want. shame.

  2. says

    The picture of these are fab, but the in person viewing is spectacular. Purple the color of my world. I am so intrigued by these plant. Will attempt to find a place in my little garden for them next year.

    Sailing to Philadelphia one of my favorites.

  3. jeg220 says

    I love, love, love Angelica Giga! I planted six this spring which were inadvertently ripped up by a well-meaning friend who was trying to weed (sob). Is it too late to plant a few now? Can I sow seeds now?
    Your blog is the absolute best.

  4. denise says

    this is sooooo weird. i watched an old gardener’s diary on hulu yesterday and the lady had one of these. i had never heard of it and really didn’t know what she was saying. googled for over an hour trying to find it……i could have just waited for your blog post. it is beautiful!!!!

  5. liv says

    I had a lovely giant angelica three years ago. It disappeared last year and this year I saw a few sprouts in odd spots. Should I move those sprouts to where I want it now or wait for spring?


leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *