Editor’s observe: This publish was first written in 2016 however was up to date and expanded in March 2022.
For those who’re a member of roughly any social media platform, you have most likely seen a publish prior to now month that reads one thing like this:
“I’ve seen this plant in my backyard/on my allotment/on a grass verge, can anybody inform me what it’s/whether or not it is a weed?”
The feedback under will go like this:
“It is borage.”
“Neglect-me-not, I believe.”
“No, it is inexperienced alkanet, it is a dye plant.”
“Inexperienced alkanet, it is a horrendous weed.”
“Borage. Or perhaps comfrey.”
“I believe it is Brunnera.”
“Are you able to eat it?”
The plant in query is nearly all the time inexperienced alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens). Chances are you’ll not have heard of this plant because it’s not as nicely often called the vegetation it’s usually mistaken for: they’re all members of the Boraginacae household, however completely different species.
Inexperienced alkanet does have piercing blue flowers not dissimilar to forget-me-nots and borage, and furry leaves that look a bit like comfrey , however when you get to know this plant it is simple to identify: the blue is sharper than a forgot-me-not – actually, actually shiny, the leaves are too massive for forget-me-nots and the flowers haven’t got the identical star form as borage.
Why is that this plant showing so usually in social media? I believe it is the blue flowers that do it: it actually does stand out, even to people who find themselves normally not trying carefully at vegetation*.
This plant just isn’t a local to the UK (few vegetation are, to be sincere… extra of that in one other publish!) It’s indigenous to southwest Europe, and arrived in British gardens round 1700 : itwas first noticed as a naturalised (ie escaped) specimen in 1724.
What’s inexperienced alkanet good for, then? It is bemoaned as a weed by many: its deep, brittle faucet root makes it tough to eradicate fully, and would not actually even function a wild edible – Vegetation for a Future offers it an edibility ranking of 1 out of 5, as a result of though the flowers are edible, they do not add a lot apart from a wonderful garnish.