Alkanna tinctoria - (L.)Taush.
Common Name Alkanet, Alkanna
Family Boraginaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards Hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) and carcinogenicity [301]. Many members of this plant family contain a liver-damaging alkaloid and so internal usage is inadvisable[238].
Habitats Maritime sands, uncultivated ground[45], calcareous soils[89] and pine forests[238].
Range S. Europe.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Alkanna tinctoria Alkanet, Alkanna
Alkanna tinctoria Alkanet, Alkanna
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Alkanna tinctoria is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft). It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Anchusa tinctoria.

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Colouring.

Used as a vegetable[177]. No further details are given. A red dye obtained from the roots is used as a food colouring[238].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial;  Antidiarrhoeal;  Antipruritic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Expectorant;  Vulnerary.

The root is antibacterial, antipruritic, astringent and vulnerary[238].It is used externally in the treatment of varicose veins, indolent ulcers, bed sores and itching rashes[238]. Used internally to treat cough and bronchial catarrh (see known hazards above). Used in the treatment of skin wounds and diarrhoea [301].The root is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use[238]. All plant parts are demulcent and expectorant [301].


Other Uses
Dye;  Litmus.

A red dye is obtained from the roots[57, 89, 171], it is used by pharmacists as well as in perfumes and to stain wood or marble[100, 238]. The dye is also used in thermometers[100] and as a litmus to test for acids and alkalines[148]. It can make wood look like rosewood or mahogany[4, 148].
Cultivation details
Prefers a well-drained sandy or loamy soil[1] in sun or partial shade[238]. Dislikes acid soils[1] but thrives in alkaline soils[238]. A very drought tolerant plant when established[200], succeeding in a hot dry position[187], it is a useful plant for dry sandy or alkaline soils[238]. Plants are hardy to about -10°c[187]. This species is occasionally cultivated as a dye plant[61]. One report says that it is cultivated for its seed[46].
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Fairly easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required. Basal cuttings of new growth in late spring. Harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long and pot them up into individual pots in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse. They should root well within a few weeks and can be planted out in the summer[K]. Root cuttings in late winter[200].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Subject : Alkanna tinctoria  

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