092. Anchusa tinctoria. Diers bugloss, or Alkanet.
Synonyma. Anchusa. Pharm. Edinb.
Anchusa puniceis floribus. Bauh. Pin. p. 255.
Anchusa Monspeliana. J. Bauh. Hist. vol. iii. p. 583. Raii. Hist. p. 496.
Anchusa Alcibiadion. Gerard. Emac. p. 800.
Anchusa minor purpurea. Park. Theat. p. 517.
Alkanna. Pharm. Suic. Wert. &c.
Class Pentandria. Ord. Monogynia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 182.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Cor. infundibulif. fauce clausa fornicibus. Sem. basi insculpta.
Spec. Char. A. tomentosa, fol. lanceolatis obtusis, stamin. corolla brevioribus.
The root is perennial, long, round, fibrous, and externally of a dark purplish red colour: the stalk is thick, round, rough, hairy, branched, and rises about two feet in height: the leaves are long, lance-shaped, obtuse, hairy, and without footstalks: the flowers vary from a purplish to reddish colour, and terminate the branches in close clusters: the calyx is divided into five oblong erect rough persistent segments: the corolla is monopetalous, and funnel-shaped, consisting of a cylindrical tube, equal in length to the calyx, divided at the limb into five blunt teeth, and closed at the faux or centre by five small prominent scaly leafits: the five filaments are short, included in the tube of the corolla, and furnished with simple antherae: the germens are four: the style is filiform, about the length of the stamina, and supplied with an obtuse notched stigma: the seeds are four, of an irregular shape, and lodged within the calyx. It flowers from June till October.
This species of Anchusa [Anchusa ab (greek) strangulo, suffico, quod serpentes strangulet necetque. Hac vi pollere est auctor Nicander, Dioscorides, Plinius, Galenus, &c. Bod. in Theoph. p. 835.] is a native of Montpellier, and was cultivated in Britain by Mr. James Sutherland, in the year 1683. [Sutherland. Hort. Edin. 24. no. 7. See Aiton's Hort. Kew.] It is propagated by our gardeners for the beauty of its flowers, but in this climate its roots never acquire that deep colour on which its utility depends. The red cortical part of the root of this plant, as imported here from the southern parts of Europe, when separated from the interior white part, imparts a fine deep red to oils, wax, and all unctuous substances, and to rectified spirit of wine; on this account the Edinburgh College introduces it into their catalogue of the Materia Medica. "To water this root gives only a dull brownish hue. The spirituous tincture, on being inspissated to the consistence of an extract, changes its fine red to a dark brown. In these general properties the deep and pale roots agree one with another, and differ from all the rest of the red drugs we know of: it is not therefore probable, that the deep colour of the foreign roots is owing, as some have supposed, to the introduction of an extraneous tincture." [Lewis Mat. Med. p, 56.] Formerly the Alkanet root was recommended in several diseases, particularly as an astringent, and it manifests this quality in some degree to the taste; [Alston could not discover this quality in the Anchusa. M. M. vol. i. p. 365.] but it is now used in no other way than for colouring oils, [It is also used with oil by the cabinet-makers to stain mahogany and other woods.] ointments, and plasters, which receive a fine deep red from one fortieth their weight of the root.