Green Alkanet; Pentaglottis sempervirens

Green Alkanet is a naturalised plant, being native of  South Western Europe, but not the UK. Many people have it growing in their gardens. Some evidently do not want it in their gardens and it appears that it is quite difficult to eradicate once it gets established. I have found several articles on the internet explaining how you can remove it from your garden. Here is a quote from the RHS web site…. seems to me they are a little nervous about the use of roundup.

‘Glyphosate is most effective when weed growth is vigorous. This usually occurs at flowering stage, but before die-back begins.

This particular weed may take more than one application to eliminate; if more than one treatment is necessary wait until the re-growing weeds have sufficient leaf area to take up the chemical.

Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.’


I think it is OK… the plant that is, the flowers are not that big but they are bright blue and quite attractive, not dissimilar to an oversize forget me not, which it is related to along with Borage and Comfrey.  It is also quite favoured by insects as a source of nectar which is quite important early in the year.

The scientific name  Pentaglottis means five tongues, and I assume this relates to the five petals  which are vaguely tongue shaped, its species name sempervivens means always alive and this probably harks back to what I have already mentioned which is the difficulty in getting rid of it once established. Ithas roots that penetrate quite deeply and also snap fairly easily so that were you to try and dig it up you would almost inevitably leave a few bits of root behind and these will quickly regenerate, thus always alive.

I have found it growing in several places in the Wye valley area,  it was also in the terrace gardens at the National Trust property of Dyrham Park where I recently went to photograph the Wild Tulips. I

It comes into flower mid April and then continues well into the summer. It is a plant that dislikes acidic soils ie a Calcicole so you are likely to find it growing in the Cotswolds, however where I am in the Wye valley you do get some acidic areas….. but also some areas are limestone so a nice mix. It will tolerate shade and is often found in hedgerows but is evidently not adverse to a bit of sunshine, so can be found colonising rough open ground as well.

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