Alexanders, Black Lovage; Smyrnium olusatrum - forest garden plant for leafy greens in winter
Alexanders, Black Lovage - celery like greens in winter without the work!
Alexanders is such a rewarding plant for the shade garden, were it pretty much looks after itself. Alexanders grows leaves through autumn and winter and provides you with a plenty of celery flavoured leaves without the work. The stalks with the leaves grow about knee high. In late summer, the plant grows a flower stalk up to 1.5m high, an umbel flower appears and later the black seeds - beautiful! Alexanders is actually grown as an ornamental. The whole plant is edible: roots, flower buds and even the seeds. Alexanders or Black Lovage is a biennial, but since planting it initially, I was never without the plant as it self seeds gently. To germinate, it probably needs a period of cold and moist stratification. That means in warmer climates it will probably not self seed. To germinate you will have to put the seeds in moist sand in the fridge for some weeks - ziplock bags are handy.
Alexanders is an ancient food source, cultivated for many centuries and widely grown by the Romans, who introduced it into western and central Europe including the British Isles. It was an important vegetable used in many dishes in much the same ways as celery or lovage and it was often used blanched to accompany winter salads.
Climate Zones: 6a (-23.3C) -9b (-3.8C)
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