Plants, flowers and fungi of Great Britain at a glance
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.