Other Common Names:
It is also known as orchanet,bugloss of Languedoc,dyer's bugloss, Spanish bugloss, enchusa, lingua bovina, ox tongue, yellow anchusa, and blue bugloss.
Its name comes from the Spanish word alcana, from Arabic al-hena, after henna. The name bugloss (byoo - gluss), which means "ox tongue" - from the shape and roughness of the leaves. Alkanet is a biennial herb cultivated in Central and Southern Europe. It has oblong leaves that grow on a thick hairy stem which rises to approximately 1-3 feet. The species are hispid or pubescent herbs, with oblong, entire leaves, and bracteated racemes, rolled up before the flowers expand.
The corolla is rather small, between funnel and salver-shaped; usually purplish-blue, but in some species yellow or whitish; the calyx enlarges in fruit. The root, which is often very large in proportion to the size of the plant, yields in many of the species a red dye from the rind.
Alkanet is grown in the south of France and on the shores of the Levant. Common alkanet originated in the Mediterranean. It was cultivated in medieval gardens and is now naturalized all over Europe and in much of eastern North America.
Range and Habitat
This member of the borage family likes to grow in disturbed ground--by the side of the road, in pastures, and in cultivated fields--showing a desire to live alongside people.
It requires moderately fertile, humus rich, moist but well drained soil. The seeds germinate in 1-3 weeks at room temperature. Or you can sow them outside in July so that they can establish themselves in the fall and then flower in the spring - plants grown that way will be larger. It likes full sun and moist soil. Common alkanet is a short-lived perennial or biennial, depending on conditions, forming a rosette of leaves the first year and flowering the second year. It gets 1-4ft/.3-1.3m tall and is hardy down to -30F/-34C (zone 4).Harvest the roots before the flower stalk appears.
It is a perennial and flowers from May to August.
Pests and Diseases
It is cultivated
commercially for the red dye
extracted from the roots.
• It helps the morphy and leprosy.
• It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms and helps the fits of the mother.
• Its decoction made in wine, and drank, strengthens the back, and easeth the pains thereof. Used to treat digestive difficulties such as ulcers and also helps liver functions, clearing up jaundice and treating kidney stones.
• When used to make an ointment, it can treat wounds such as snake bites by either applying topically directly to the site or ingesting orally.
• Can also relieve skin inflammation, such as smallpox or measles.
• An ointment made of it is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts.
• Traditionally used to soften and smooth the skin.
• Used by French women as a temporary make-up solution.
• Some cultures use the root and turn it into a dye which is then utilized in decorations and staining procedures.
• It was often used to improve the appearance of poor grades of port and similar wines, and to give the appearance of age to port wine corks.
• It is commonly used today as a food colouring.