a bit of botanical information about alkanet root
Alkanet, a perennial or biennial (depending on conditions) belonging to the Boraginaceae family, is known for its natural ruby red dye. Alkanet typically forms a rosette of leaves the first year and flowers the second year.
Alkanet is about ½-1½’ tall, and has a tendency to sprawl across the ground. The stems are covered with long white hairs. The leaves have sparse white hairs on their upper sides, hairs along their margins, and a white “fur” on their undersides. The alternate leaves are about 1-2″ long and are oblong with rounded tips. The bright yellow to yellow-orange flowers occur in showy clusters at the ends of the stems. Each flower is narrowly tubular, with 5 rounded lobes that flare outward and there is no noticeable floral scent. The blooming period occurs during late spring and lasts about a month. The root system consists of a central taproot.
Alkanet comes from the Arabic al-hanna, which means “the henna”, for the pink, red, or purple dye that is made from the plant. “Hoary Puccoon” is from the hairy (or hoary) appearance given off by the white hairs on the leaves and stems.
Also known as:
alkanet, bugloss, alkanna tinctoria, anchusa, spanish bugloss, dyer’s bugloss, orchanet, common alkanet, and hoary puccoon
habitat and range for alkanetNative to Southern Europe and Pakistan, cultivated in Central and Southern Europe.
considerations for growing alkanet
Habitats include evenly moist to dry black soil prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, Bur Oak savannas, sandy Black Oak savannas, and limestone glades.
It requires moderately fertile, humus rich, moist but well drained soil.
To grow alkanet root in the garden from seeds, sow the seeds during the spring in sandy soil in pots. Germination is aided by the overnight drop in temperature. Seeds normally germinate in about one to four weeks at an average temperature of about 21°C. As the alkanet plants grow and become large enough to handle by hand, each individual seedling must be transplanted into individual pots and then planted out in the soil during the summer months. An outdoor soil bed can also be used to sow the seeds during the month of July; this must be followed by the transplantation of the growing plants to where they will finally be fully grown early in the autumn season. Such plants tend to grow larger and flower earlier than the plants that were sown during the spring season.
Harvest the roots just before the plant flowers in the second year (typically only forms a rosette of leaves the first year).
Alkanet root is generally infused in carrier oil or extracted with alcohol. Store mixture in a glass container in a cool dry place.
For external use only, do not apply to broken skin.
1oz, 4oz, 8oz, 1lb