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Alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria)

Anchusa tinctoria.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Alkanna tinctoria

A red dye is obtained from the roots[57, 89, 171], it is used by pharmacists as well as in perfumes and to stain wood or marble[100, 238]. The dye is also used in thermometers[100] and as a litmus to test for acids and alkalines[148]. It can make wood look like rosewood or mahogany[4, 148].

  • Medicinal Use

    The root is antibacterial, antipruritic, astringent and vulnerary[238].It is used externally in the treatment of varicose veins, indolent ulcers, bed sores and itching rashes[238]. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use[238].

  • Edible Use

    Used as a vegetable[177]. No further details are given.

    A red dye obtained from the roots is used as a food colouring[238].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Many members of this plant family contain a liver-damaging alkaloid and so internal usage is inadvisable[238].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Fairly easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required. Basal cuttings of new growth in late spring. Harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long and pot them up into individual pots in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse. They should root well within a few weeks and can be planted out in the summer[K]. Root cuttings in late winter[200].
Prefers a well-drained sandy or loamy soil[1] in sun or partial shade[238]. Dislikes acid soils[1] but thrives in alkaline soils[238]. A very drought tolerant plant when established[200], succeeding in a hot dry position[187], it is a useful plant for dry sandy or alkaline soils[238]. Plants are hardy to about -10¡c[187]. This species is occasionally cultivated as a dye plant[61]. One report says that it is cultivated for its seed[46].
S. Europe.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.