Alkanet II

Anchusa tinctoria, orcanette, rothe Ochsenzunge, alcana, boglas

I don’t think I’ve had quite as much linguistic fun and dyepot surprises from any one plant before. While looking up names of alkanet in other languages, I went from English through Irish to ancient Greek, then back to German and Swedish. Let me explain…

The variety/varieties of Anchusa and related genus Pentaglottis are known in northern Europe as either bugloss or ox tongue. I couldn’t find one source that would tell me the name of Anchusa tinctoria in Irish/Gaelic (though I did come up with scorsa luibh, then found I couldn’t verify this anywhere else), so wondered if perhaps bugloss came from the Irish bog/bogach + glas =  green o’ the bog – that’s my name, not one I found somewhere else). Well, no. It appears that bugloss actually comes from Old French, from Latin, from ancient Greek and means “ox tongue”. Well, at least it would have fitted in nicely with Irish and not stuck out like a sore thumb… Nach bhfuil mo bhuglas alainn an bhliain seo! Any genuine gaeilgoir is welcome to make corrections here and should make allowances for a sassenach gan m(h)úinteoir.alkanet.jpg

OK, back to the dyepot… In an earlier post, I’d obtained pure black from steeping the roots in alcohol. This time I tried steeping the roots in water alone for a week, then doing the usual. The results were quite surprising, considering two Guild buddies had come up with purple and grey. All the shades ospoon.jpgbtained were quite distinct, but the most notable results were that no mordant keeps the red, whilst an alkaline modifier transforms the reds to green shades. Here’s an intersting source if you’re interested in the chemistry: green alkanet

So what happened to the purple? Have a look at the spoon which I hadn’t de-gunked before stirring. I may very well give this one more go before I give up. Beirthe caillte…

 

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