Botanical Name: Smyrnium olusatrum
Species: S. olusatrum
Common Names: Alexanders, Alisanders, Horse parsley, and Smyrnium
Habitat: Alexanders is native to continental Europe and has long been naturalised in Britain and Ireland where it is widely dispersed and – in addition to other disturbed habitats – commonly found on the sites of medieval monastery gardens as a persistent relic of former cultivation. Irish localities include: Counties Down, Antrim and Londonderry and throughout most of Ireland.It grows on waste ground and field margins, especially near the sea, where it may also be found on cliff paths and near the shore.
Alexanders is a stout biennial growing to 150 centimetres (59 in) high, with a solid stem which becomes hollow and grooved with age. The leaves are bluntly toothed, the segments ternately divided the segments flat, not fleshy. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Succeeds in most soils but prefers an open sunny position in a well-drained moisture retentive soil. Hardy to about -15°c. At one time this plant was extensively grown for its edible leaves and stems but it has now fallen into virtual disuse, having been replaced by celery. The seeds are highly aromatic with a myrrh-like scent. A good bee plant. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is fleshy. Thick or swollen – fibrous or tap root.
Leaves and young shoots – raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews etc. The plant comes into growth in the autumn and the leaves are often available throughout the winter. They have a rather strong celery-like flavour and are often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. Leafy seedlings can be used as a parsley substitute. Stem – raw or cooked. It tastes somewhat like celery, but is more pungent. The stem is often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. Flower buds – raw. Added to salads, they have a celery-like flavour. The spicy seeds are used as a pepper substitute. Root – cooked. Boiled and used in soups, its flavour is somewhat like celery. The root is said to be more tender if it has been kept in a cool place all winter.
The whole plant is bitter and digestive. It has been used in the past in the treatment of asthma, menstrual problems and wounds, but is generally considered to be obsolete as a medicinal plant.The plant is used as traditional medicine in China.
Other Uses: A good wildlife plant. Scented. A good plant for food forests/forest gardens.It is a fodder plant, Alexanders is a feed source much appreciated by horses.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.