a European plant, Alkanna tinctoria, of the borage family.
the root of this plant, yielding a red dye.
the dye itself.
any of several similar hairy plants, as the bugloss, Anchusa officinalis, or a puccoon of the genus Lithospermum.

1300–50; Middle English < Old Spanish alcaneta, equivalent to alcan(a) henna (plant) (< Medieval Latin alchanna < Arabic al the + hinnā̉ henna) + -eta diminutive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To alkanet
World English Dictionary
alkanet (ˈælkəˌnɛt)
1.  a European boraginaceous plant, Alkanna tinctoria, the roots of which yield a red dye
2.  anchusin, Also called: alkannin the dye obtained from this plant
3.  See also bugloss any of certain hairy blue-flowered Old World plants of the boraginaceous genus Anchusa (or Pentaglottis), such as A. sempervirens of Europe
4.  another name for puccoon
[C14: from Spanish alcaneta, diminutive of alcana henna, from Medieval Latin alchanna, from Arabic al the + hinnā' henna]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


any plant of the 50 or so mostly Mediterranean species of the genus Anchusa and the closely related Pentaglottis sempervirens, bearing blue, purple, or white forget-me-not-like flower clusters on hairy, herbaceous stems. They belong to the family Boraginaceae. True alkanet (A. officinalis) bears purple flowers in coiled sprays, on narrow-leaved plants, 60 cm (2 feet) tall. Large blue alkanet (A. azurea), popular as a garden species, reaches 120 cm (4 feet) and has large, bright-blue flowers with a tuft of white hairs in the throats, and narrow leaves. Oval, pointed evergreen leaves and white-eyed blue flowers characterize the evergreen alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens), which reaches 100 cm (3 13 feet). All three species grow in fields and roadside waste spaces. True alkanet has become naturalized in some areas of eastern North America.

Learn more about alkanet with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature