February 27, 2020

A Seafaring Seed

Ligusticum scothicum

Ligusticum scothicum - Photos courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Ligusticum scothicum is a mouthful, so let’s go with its common name: Scotch wild lovage. This relative of common lovage, Levisticum officinale, is found in Maine along the coast and out on the islands. It is an aromatic perennial herb, distinctive with its purplish stems and dark green leaves. It flowers, too, and the resulting fruit has a remarkable trait. According to www.floranordica.org, “Ligusticum scothicum fruits have excellent flotation tissue and the species is obviously spread mainly by sea; short distance dispersal with birds has also been suggested.” That would be one explanation for why this plant hugs the coastlines from Maine to Newfoundland and off into the Baltic countries. Which also would explain its other common name, sea parsley.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.