Written by Nicky Westwood – Herb Society Trustee
How lovely to celebrate the spring and take the time, as we can now in this period of Covid-19, to look around us and enjoy the herbs that grow wild in our area. The field next door to me is currently full of Alexanders. They love their location by the sea.
Smyrnium olusatrum, common name Alexanders, is an edible cultivated flowering plant of the family Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae). It is also known as alisanders, horse parsley (horses love it as fodder), and smyrnium.
It was known to the Greeks, and also the Romans, who introduced it to the UK. They called it ‘the pot herb of Alexandria’ and used it blanched in many dishes. It has now been replaced by celery, but is popular with foragers.
To have a go at cooking it, find a patch of young Alexanders, wash and trim the stems to roughly even lengths, steam for five to ten minutes, and serve with lashings of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Each part of the plant is edible. The seeds are spicy and peppery. See what recipes you can find.
How much else do we walk past without realising it was once part of our daily diet?