The name originates from the Greek anchousa, a cosmetic paint (Boraginaceae). Alkanet, bugloss. Cultivated species are usually perennials or biennials, noteworthy for their blue flowers. The plant long known as Anchusa myosotidiflora is now correctly known as Brunnera macrophylla.
Biennial species cultivated A. capensis,18 inches, flowers in panicles at tips of stems, July. A. officinalis, 1-2 feet, flowers sometimes purple in double spikes, May; var. incarnata, flowers pale pink.
Perennial species cultivated A. azurea (syn. A. italica), 3-5 feet, bright blue flowers summer. A. barrelieri, 2 feet, flowers, blue and white, yellow throats, May. A. caespitosa (syn. A. angustissima), 12-15 inches, tufted plant with gentian-blue flowers from May to July, rock garden or alpine house. A. sempervirens, 11-2 feet, rich blue flowers, May; var. variegata, foliage cream and green.
Cultivars A. azurea—`Dropmore’, ‘Lod-don Royalist’, `Morning Glory’, ‘Opal’, `Pride of Dover’, `Suttons Bright Blue’ `Suttons Royal Blue’ A. capensis—`Blue Bird’.
Cultivation Sunny borders in ordinary soil. Plant out in autumn or spring. Perennials may be raised from seed, from root cuttings taken in February, or by dividing established plants in October. Biennials are raised from seed sown in April.