Appearance''A. tinctoria'' has a bright blue flower. The plant has a dark red root of blackish appearance externally, but blue-red inside, with a whitish core.
NamingIn English in the late medieval era, the name alkanet meant ''A. tinctoria''. In the centuries since then, the name has come to be used informally for some botanically related other plants; see Alkanet.
UsesThe root produces a fine red colouring material, which has been used as a dye in the Mediterranean region since antiquity. The root as a dyestuff is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but is insoluble in water. It is used to give colour to wines and alcoholic tinctures, to vegetable oils, and to varnishes.
Powdered and mixed with oil, the alkanet root is used as a wood stain. When mixed into an oily environment, it imparts a crimson color to the oil, which when applied to a wood, moves the wood color towards dark-red-brown rosewood, and accentuates the grain of the wood.
Alkanet is traditionally used in Indian food under the name ''ratan jot'', and lends its red colour to some versions of the curry dish ''rogan josh''. In Australia, alkanet is approved for use as a food colouring, but in the European Union, it is not.
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