Na­tive Bri­tain

Plants, flow­ers and fungi of Great Bri­tain at a glance

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

Latin name: Pen­ta­glot­tis sem­per­virens

Com­mon name: Green alka­net How to spot it and where to find it: Wide­spread in the south­ern part of the UK, green alka­net is a tall plant of wood­land edges, road­side verges and shady hedgerows. It can grow to 1m high, with large broad leaves that are oval in shape and pointed at the tip. Both leaves and stems are cov­ered in hairs, as are the flower buds that are pink when they form. They open out to a bril­liant sky blue, with raised white honey guides in the cen­tre — the glow­ing colour ex­plains why the plant is some­times con­fused with for­get-me-not.

Part of the bor­age fam­ily — as is the for­getme-not — the name alka­net comes from the Ara­bic for henna be­cause the roots of the green alka­net can be used to make a red dye. The sem­per­virens part of its Latin name means “al­ways alive” and green alka­net is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to get rid of once it has taken hold in your gar­den. This is due to its thick but brit­tle tap­root, which ex­tends down­wards to half a me­tre or more. It is a worth­while ad­di­tion to your gar­den be­cause, as well as be­ing loved by bees, its leaves are used by at least two species of leaf-min­ing flies and a mi­cro moth, bu­gloss case-bearer.

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