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
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