[Licorice-roots and Lovages: The Genus Ligusticum East of the Cascade Mts. of Oregon and Washington]

Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage

Ligusticum grayi

Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis

Inflorescence of Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)
A close-up of the umbel of Gray's lovage from Cheatem Holler, Rds #31 & #37, Malheur N.F..........June 27, 2001.

Inflorescence of Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)The photo at right shows a side view of the umbel of Gray's lovage from Cheatem Holler, Rds #31 & #37, Malheur N.F..........June 27, 2001.

Characteristics:

Gray's lovage is an erect perennial with one to several stems arising 20-60 cm high. The herbage is glabrous and the leaves are mainly basal. The stems are often leafless or may have one or two much reduced leaves. The basal leaves are ternately- or pinnately-compound with much dissected margins and which measure from 10-30 cm long. . The leaflets are up to 3 cm long and are toothed or cleft. The leaves are less divided and the divisions are much broader than those of the similar Ligusticum filicinum. Gray's lovage is an aromatic plant.

The 1-3 umbels are found at the apex of the stem or arising from the base of the upper stem leaves. The 7-18 rays of the umbel range from 2-3.5 cm long at maturity. Several awl-shaped bracts with membranous margins may be found at the base of the umbel. The flowers are white. The fruiting pedicels are 3-8 mm long. The fruit are elliptic-oblong in shape and range from 4-6 mm long. The ribs of the fruit are narrowly winged.

The roots were once pulverized and used as a fish poison. Some Native Americans cooked the young leaves.


Habitat:

Gray's lovage may be found on moist to dry slopes both in open meadows or on wooded slopes in the mountains. It may be found between the elevations of 2400-3000 meters.


Range:

Gray's lovage may be found from the Cascade Mts. of Washington south to the Sierra Nevada of California and east to the Blue Mts. of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington and into western Idaho and Nevada. In southeastern Oregon, it may be found on the Steens Mt.


Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis) - Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)

Gray's lovage as seen (left) in bloom along the Roads End Trail #201A, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness...........July 18, 2013. The Photo at right shows grays lovage as seen along the East Fork Lostine River Trail #1662, Eagle Cap Wilderness........August 4, 2016 .

Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)

Gray's lovage as seen along the North Loop Road about one mile downhill from the Kiger Gorge Overlook, Steens Mountain, Harney County, Oregon........August 31, 2011.

Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis) - Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis) - Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)

Gray's lovage observed along FS Road 3910 near the headwaters of the North Fork Twelvemile Creek, Mt. Bidwell Recreation Area, Fremont-Winema National Forest.......July 31, 2020.

Basal leaf of Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)
A basal leaf of Gray's lovage from Cheatem Holler, Rds #31 & #37, Malheur N.F.......June 27, 2001.

Gray's Lovage, Gray's Licorice-root, Sheep Wild Lovage: Ligusticum grayi (Synonyms: Ligusticum apiifolium var. minus, Ligusticum cusickii, Ligusticum purpureum, Ligusticum tenuifolium var. dissimilis, Pimpinella apidora var. nudicaulis)

Gray's lovage as seen in bloom in Pisgah Meadows, Ochoco National Forest..........June 13, 2015.

Paul Slichter