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Anchusa officinalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, roadsides, sand dunes, wasteland.

Purple, 5 petals
Tight clusters of purplish-blue flowers. Roundish petals. Densely hairy. 5 stamens. Pollinated by bees.
Brown, 4-parted fruit, about 4mm long. The seeds ripen from July to October.
The leaves and stems are very hairy. The leaves are elliptic and wavy-edged. Not toothed. The leaves are alternate along both sides of the stems. Biennial or perennial.
Other Names:
Common Bugloss, Oxtongue.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Anchusa officinalis, also known as common bugloss or alkanet, is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the borage family and is known for its small, blue or purple flowers and hairy, grey-green leaves. Anchusa officinalis is a tall plant that can reach heights of up to 3 feet (1 meter) and is often used as a border plant or in naturalized areas. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates.anchusa officinalis prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as slugs and snails.anchusa officinalis is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Alkanet, also known as Anchusa officinalis, is a perennial herb that belongs to the borage family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and can be found in parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

The plant is known for its vibrant blue-purple flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. It can grow up to a height of 3 feet and prefers well-drained soil and full sun.

One of the most notable uses of Alkanet is as a natural dye. The root of the plant contains a red pigment called alkanet root, which can be extracted and used to dye fabrics, yarns, and even food. The dye is considered to be one of the oldest natural dyes and was commonly used in medieval times to dye clothing.

In addition to its use as a dye, Alkanet has been traditionally used in herbal medicine. The root of the plant is said to have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. It has been used to treat various skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. However, more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of Alkanet in treating these conditions.

Alkanet is also considered to be a medicinal plant. It is rich in mucilage, flavonoids, and tannins which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is widely used in cosmetics and skincare products due to its ability to soothe and moisturize the skin.

Alkanet should be used with caution, as it can cause skin irritation in some people. It should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and it should not be consumed in large quantities.

In conclusion, Alkanet is a beautiful and versatile plant that has been used for centuries for its vibrant blue-purple flowers, natural dye, and medicinal properties. While it has many potential benefits, it should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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