This is a beautiful plant, undoubtedly, and it provides a great source of nutrients for pollinators – but is green alkanet edible? From the leaves to the roots to those pretty little flowers, let’s look all over this plant and find out if you can eat it.
What You'll Learn Today
Is Green Alkanet Edible?
A member of the Boraginacae family, green alkanet shares many characteristics of Borage and Comfrey.
It is very vigorous and grows well, and has pretty blue flowers amongst the green, hairy stems.
This plant is a great favorite of pollinators, both to drink the nectar and eat the leaves. But can people eat it?
Well, you can eat the flowers. A lot like their cousin the Borage plant, these pretty blooms add a lovely splash of colour to a salad.
However, there is not much to recommend them in the way of taste! They don’t taste awful, but they also don’t taste of anything very much.
The leaves could conceivably be eaten, but like the Borage and the Comfrey plant they are covered with hairs, and are not very comfortable to handle, let alone put in your mouth!
Best to leave this one to be enjoyed by the insects that love it, and to just admire its pretty flowers and green leaves.
There is a fair bit of information out there that claims alkanet has a great many health benefits when prepared and taken to treat a number of conditions.
However, these are often anecdotal and not supported by science or endorsed by the medical community.
If you do fancy trying out green alkanet, have a read of this article and learn all about its reported health benefits. And if you’re worried that your dog has eaten too much of it, read this article.
What Does Alkanet Taste Like?
If you are in the mood for sampling your garden plants, you can be safe in the knowledge that alkanet won’t do you any harm.
However, it is not the most pleasant taste experience you will ever have either – and you will struggle to find any recipes that ask for it.
The leaves are said to have a flavour a little like spinach, and the young leaves and tops can be used as they won’t be as bristly.
It is recommended to blanch the leaves before you use them, as this will soften them and bring out their flavour more.
The roots are reprtedly bitter and astringent when fresh, with a faint smell – when dried however it does not smell.
The flowers are pretty tasteless, but they do add a lovely burst of colour to a fresh summer salad.
All in all, it’s not the best of eating – but it does look lovely and attracts lots of pollinators, so it’s still a great plant to have around!
What Is Alkanet Good For?
Although it is not the best for eating, there are many other things that you can use alkanet for to benefit both you and your garden:
- Green compost. Using the plants as mulch or added to your compost bin will release lots of nutrients for you rother plants.
- Attracting pollinators. These days, bees and butterflies need all the help they can get, so planting alkanet is a good way or doing your bit.
- For making dye. This plant, along with many others, has long been used to create pigments and dyes. Alkanet reportedly gives burgundy or purple coloring.
- Making beauty treatments. Although not widely used, alkanet has astringent qualities that make it good for skin inflammation.
- Creating a medicine cabinet. Alkanet reportedly has many health benefits, so it is worth doing some research to see if you can use it to help you.
This video tells you many of the benefits that alkanet can bring to the body, both inside and out:
Why Is It Called Green Alkanet?
The origins of plant names can be very interesting, and they are not always related to the appearance of the plant.
You may be wondering why it’s called “green” alkanet when it’s flowers are a very distinctive blue colour!
The “green” part of alkanet’s name comes from “sempervirens”, meaning “Always alive” or “evergreen”.
Although this plant dies back in the winter, for the majority of the year you would be forgiven for thinking it actually is evergreen!
Alkanet starts to show its leafy face as early as the late winter, meaning that it may be one of the first plants you see.
The word “alkanet” comes from the Arabic word for “henna”, presumably because of alkanet’s use as a dye.
Is Alkanet Root Good For Hair?
Whether or not you have heard of green alkanet the plant, chances are you may have come across it in some of your haircare products.
Alkanet root is used in hair products as it can prevent hair loss, promote the growth of the hair and stop premature greying.
This plant has long been used as a natural dye, and the word “alkanet” literally means “henna”, so you can see that it would help with the natural colour of your hair.
This handy little plant can also benefit your scalp, helping to prevent infections and dryness that can cause dandruff.
You can easily make your own hair treatment using alkanet root at home – it’s easy and simple and will cost you almost nothing!
- Take 1 cup of coconut oil and add 2-3tbsp of castor oil.
- Add a handful of alkanet root (you can chop of grate it to release more of the goodness).
- Bring the mixture to the boil, either in a double saucepan or an old pan.
- Simmer for a few hours, then allow to cool completely.
- Strain out the solids, and store the oil in a suitable bottle.
- Apply this to your scalp 2-3 times a week for maximum benefit.
So there you have it – just about everything you never knew you needed to know about green alkanet!
Now that you know what it is used for, you are free to try out using the various parts of this plant for eating, display or for beauty treatments.