Scotch Lovage

Ligusticum scoticum ssp. scoticum None

Ligusticum scoticum
Robert E. Zaremba

Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
Apiaceae (Carrot Family)
State Protection
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Both the species as a whole and the subspecies/variety are common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

In the Gaspé peninsula of Québec scotch lovage is harvested and sold as a substitute for parsley and celery stalks and seeds (Union of agricultural producers 2010).

State Ranking Justification

There are six existing populations but only half of these have over 100 plants. The populations are in decline due to overharvest and Phragmites invasion. There are also two historical populations.

Short-term Trends

A short-term trend is negative as the number of plants has declined in the last ten years because of phragmites invasion and overharvesting of plants.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend appears to be negative. However, this plant has always been rare and most of the populations have survived to the present.

Conservation and Management


The reason for the decline in some populations is unknown, but succession of its salt marsh habitat to more upland species may be the cause.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Protect the populations from human interaction and from the incursion of Phragmites.

Research Needs

Research is needed to determine the causes of the decline of the species on Long Island.



One population is located on stabilized dunes with low shrubs and scattered oaks on a barrier beach. Most of the plants are under red cedars with grasses and wildflowers. The soil is organic juniper leaves. Other plants are located on the edge of disturbed coastal oak-hickory forest located near the headwaters of a short tidal river or next to a high marsh or salt pond. They may also be on the steep eroded bank above the ocean (New York Natural Heritage Program 2012). Sandy or rocky seashores (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Saline marshes and rocks along the shore (Fernald 1950).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Coastal oak-hickory forest (guide)
    A hardwood forest with oaks and hickories codominant that occurs in dry, well-drained, loamy sand of knolls, upper slopes, or south-facing slopes of glacial moraines of the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
  • High salt marsh (guide)
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide up to the limit of spring tides. It is periodically flooded by spring tides and flood tides. High salt marshes typically consist of a mosaic of patches that are mostly dominated by a single graminoid species.
  • Maritime red cedar forest (guide)
    A conifer forest that occurs on dry sites near the ocean. Eastern red cedar is the dominant tree, often forming nearly pure stands. Other characteristic trees include post oak and black cherry.

Associated Species

  • Baccharis halimifolia (groundsel-tree)
  • Gnaphalium
  • Myrica pensylvanica
  • Oenothera
  • Opuntia humifusa (eastern prickly-pear)
  • Rosa
  • Solidago sempervirens (northern seaside goldenrod)
  • Toxicodendron radicans
  • Tussilago farfara (colts-foot)


New York State Distribution

All known occurrences are from Suffolk County on eastern Long Island and one historical record from near Syracuse that is considered extirpated.

Global Distribution

This low herb reaches its southern limits on Long Island, where it is rare, and extends north through New England to the Maritime provinces, Québec, and Ontario.

Identification Comments

General Description

These are simple or branched, stout plants 3-6 decimeters tall, non-rhizomatous but with a stout taproot. The leaves are thick, fleshy and can be shiny. The sheath of the upper leaf is less than 1 centimeter wide. They are divided first into 3 petioles and then once again with 3 leaflets at the end of each petiole to make a total of 9 leaflets. The leaflets are rhombic to obovate, widest at the top and 3-10 centimeters long. They are sharply toothed only above the middle. The lower half of the margin is without teeth and wedge-shaped at the base. The umbels are compound with 10-20 rays. The bractlets are linear and the sepals can be seen at a magnification of 10x. The fruit is oblong and 6-10 millimeters long with prominent ribs that are narrowly winged. The enlarged base of the style is well developed and the reflexed styles are scarcely longer than the enlarged base.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

It is best to identify this plant when it is in flower or fruit.

Similar Species

Angelica lucida, seacoast angelica, occurs in the same habitat and may look similar but its leaves have more leaflets and they are serrate to the base. The teeth can be whitish at the tips. The terminal leaflet is 3-lobed or with 3 leaflets and with two simple leaflets below it. The flowers have no or only a few narrow bractlets and they soon fall off. The fruits are wider and shorter and the ribs are not winged.

Best Time to See

The plants come up in May and flower from July to September. The fruits are visible September through November.

  • Vegetative
  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Scotch Lovage vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.

Scotch Lovage Images


Scotch Lovage
Ligusticum scoticum ssp. scoticum None

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
        • Order Apiales
          • Family Apiaceae (Carrot Family)

Additional Common Names

  • Beach Lovage


  • Ligusticum scothieum [A typographical error in Linnaeus (1753).]
  • Ligusticum scoticum auct. non

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Other References

Clemants, Steven and Carol Gracie. 2006. Wildflowers in the Field and Forest. A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 445 pp.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of the Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Vines of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Stephen M. Young

Information for this guide was last updated on: September 6, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Ligusticum scoticum ssp. scoticum. Available from: Accessed June 23, 2024.