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Herb of the Week for 25th August 2006

The herb of Macedonia Alexander the Great by Lynn Kirkland

With a name like Alexanders you can be pretty sure that this herb dates back to Roman times. It was called The herb of Macedonia of Alexander the Great, and it’s previous botanical name was “petroselinium alexandrium”, the first part showing it’s link to the parsley and carrot family. Nowadays its botanical name is “smyrnium olusatrum” which now refers to the myrrh like scent of the black seeds.

It is regard as a wild herb in Britain and can be commonly found near monastic gardens, where it has become a garden escape, from where it used to be grown by the nuns. It is a garden escape here too at the herb farm and has established itself beautifully under the trees in our woodland areas.
We used to have a chef, who would buy bucketfuls of this herb, but most people do not know it at all and it would be fair to say that it’s uses as a culinary or healing herb has almost become a thing of the past.
It has been grown and blanched like celery and used in stews and soups.
The Romans used it in their broths to impart a myrrh like flavour and aroma. Its healing properties are diuretic and digestive.
Culpepper the seventeenth century herbalist said “seed powdered for flatulence, snakebite, warming to the cold stomach.”

The seeds are very attractive being quite large and glossy black.
A herb which certainly looks attractive and does a great job of colonizing areas where other plants perhaps struggle.

The Herb Farm
Grove Road, RD10
New Zealand


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