Alkanet - Anchusa officinalis, click for a larger image, licensed for reuse
Photo ©2008 - Kurt Stueber

Alkanet - Anchusa officinalis
Family - Boraginaceae
Also known as - Common Bugloss

This plant was incorrectly identified for it's presence Brickfields Country Park, however the information is correct as Alkanet - Anchusa officinalis.  This page has been left on the Brickfields Park site to maintain any links that point to it from elsewhere on the web.

A roughly hairy perennial or biennial plant growing to 60-100cm (2-3ft) from a tough deep tap root.  Several erect un-branched bristly stems with lanceolate leaves to 25mm (1in) wide grow from a basal rosette, the stem lower leaves are stalked, whilst the upper ones are sessile, the leaves (and stalks) becoming progressively smaller further up the plant.  Flowers in leafless coiled cymes that later straighten and become elongated.  Five petals are a deep blue to violet (rarely white or pale yellow) with a white centre 9-15mm (0.4-0.6in) in diameter, forming a rounded tubular structure concealing the five stamens.  Fruits to a four chambered nutlet, each containing one seed, developing around 800 seeds per plant in a season.

The plant is difficult to eradicate in a garden environment as the deep seated tap root from which it readily re-grows is hard to remove.  Seen during May to September, it is an introduced plant having been brought to England in the Middle Ages for the red dye which is obtained from its root.  Listed as "rather rare", but quite common locally.  Found in dry grasslands, banks verges and waste ground usually on poor sandy or stony soil, it is now naturalised in many places.

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