plantlore

Alexanders *smyrnium olusatrum*

Another spring green that grows just about everywhere, Alexanders taste like a more floral celery. Not to everyone tastes I’m sure, but I love them. All parts are edible not too mention damn tasty. Also known as horse parsley and smyrnium.

A word of warning before I get started… don’t eat anything if you’re not 100% sure you know what it is. Do your own research!

When young, Alexanders look similar to the highly poisonous Hemlock water dropwort a.k.a dead man’s fingers. You don’t want to get the two confused for obvious reasons. So if you’re not sure, don’t bother here’s a rundown though:

Alexanders

Bigger leaves bluntly toothed.
  • Alexanders grows up high, about 1.5metres.
  • Alexanders have big yellow flowering umbels which grow black fruits.
  • The leaves of Alexanders are bigger, more shiny and and bluntly toothed.
  • Grows everywhere including near water.

Hemlock Water Dropwort

Looks more like parsley.
  • Grows out, spreading along close to the ground.
  • Grows white flowers.
  • Leaves are more matte, small and finely toothed.
  • Grows near water usually rivers which is what makes it so damn tricksie.

I have seen them growing next to each other so do watch out.

Background And Uses

Another plant that was apparently brought over by the Romans to be used as a pot herb. It’s fast growing and a great source of fiber. I’ve been told the reasons it’s Latin name is ‘smyrnium’ is because it smells like myrrh. I can’t say I’ve smelt much myrrh on it’s own but I might go investigate now.

There’s not much else to say about Alexanders really. It does have some medicinal uses but most have been replaced with other, more potent herbs such as being a remedy for flatulence: people tend to use Fennel, Liquorice and Star Anise these days.

It’s as good a green as any other, containing vitamin C and fiber. The little black fruits are particularly tasty and when dried make an interesting alternative to peppercorns. You can use the leaves like spinach and the stalk like a celery. I like to put in my green goddess soup. It adds a slightly floral coriander-ish flavour and is also great in stir-frys.

Magical Uses

Alexanders are associated with the planet Jupiter so good when working for luck, expansion and success. In sympathetic magic they can be used to welcome abundance as they grow so abundantly and give so much.

So, Alexanders: a generous plant for your cooking pot but do be sure you know what your picking.

Happy hunting witches!

Peace out.

Love Kate xxx