Monday, 28 January 2013

In the hedgerow - Alexanders

(smyrnium olusatrum)

Known as parsley of alexandria in medieval Latin it is one of the many plants introduced into Britain by the Romans.

It grows all over Britain and Western Europe, particularly near the coast, if it does grow inland it is usually on chalk. A strong bushy biennial it grows up to 1 1/4 metres high. The leaves appear at the end of Winter and are a bright green, consisting of three broad, toothed leaflets with a veined, membraneous bract enclosing the base of the leaf stalks. The flowers grow in fat, round umbrels which are tightly massed and a vivid green. The plant flowers in spring.

It was planted originally as a vegetable in the gardens of monastries, but was also used medicinally.

Cook the stems in boiling salted water for 5-10 minutes and serve as a vegetable. Use the unopened flower buds, cooked for 2-3 minutes in salted water sprinkled over a salad.


Edible Wild Plants & Herbs by Pamela Michael

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