Egyptian Alkanet

Egyptian Alkanet / Anchusa aegyptiaca / حمحم مصري

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Status: Common

It is a therophyte plant belongs to the Boraginaceae family. Anchusa includes about 40 species. These species grow in Europe, North Africa, South Africa and Western Asia. Anchusa aegyptiaca is a hispid white-warty. Stems 5-30 cm, much-branched and erect. They are ascending or sprawling and angular. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate, simple with entire leaf margin, alternate, apex is acute and the base is attenuate, Upper leaves are sessile. Flowers are bracteate and pedicellate, pale yellow. Stamens inserted at the middle of the tube, in 2 series of 2 and 3. Anthers are oblong-elliptic and obtuse. Ovary is ovate and glabrous. Style is 2-2.5 mm, slender and glabrous, Stigma is 2-lobed.

The plants show numerous flowers with 5 sepals, united at their bases, and 5 petals forming a narrow tube facing upwards. The flowers grow in several axillary cymes, simple or branched, or are clustered at the end. The flowers are much frequented by bees, also Anchusa species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.

Flowering periods: February to May. Fruits are nutlets, ovoid, erect.

Ecology: It grows in cultivated beds, roadsides, fallow and waste ground, dry hillslopes in open shrubby areas, and sandy coastal habitats, and desert. It follows the Saharo-Arabian Chorotype.

Uses: The roots of Anchusa contain anchusin (or alkanet-red), a red-brown resinoid coloring matter. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in alcohol, chloroform and ether.

Distributions in Palestine: Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Deserts and extreme deserts.

IUCN red list status: not evaluated

Local status: least concern