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Alexander seeds?

Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:16 am
by Zech
I wasn't sure whether to put this in foraging or gardening, as it's a bit of both, but all I've done is foraging so far, so it's going here.

Although we live near the coast, I haven't found any Alexanders locally, but I do know of some about 20 miles down the coast. I harvested some there in early April and as we happened to be there again yesterday, I collected some seeds. The thing is, the plants are rather more difficult to identify when they've died back to brown twigginess. I don't know how useful these photos are, as the seedheads may have got a little squashed in my handbag on the way home, but here are some of what I got:
Some probably-Alexanders seed heads
Some probably-Alexanders seed heads
seeds1.jpg (17.78 KiB) Viewed 4342 times
A closer view of probably-Alexanders seeds
A closer view of probably-Alexanders seeds
seeds2.jpg (26.11 KiB) Viewed 4092 times
I'm not really asking for an ID from these photos, but are is there anything else around at the moment (UK, July) that might look like this? My identification is based on knowing that Alexanders were growing about there earlier in the year, and surely it's too early for other umbellifers to have set seed yet. It's not critical because I'm not going to eat them, but it would be nice to think I've got the right plant before I invest much time cultivating them. I'm sure I'll be able to identify them when they've grown up.

That brings me to the gardening question. Any thoughts on my chances of growing Alexanders here, 20 miles north, 12 miles inland, and 650 feet up from where I collected the seeds? Or should I try a little guerrilla gardening along the coast path?

Re: Alexander seeds?

Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:24 am
by MKG
This bloke ...

... says that the only thing which really needs to be watched is temperature. If they don't get too cold in winter, they'll thrive. You are 650 feet up in the air, though, so you'd need a sheltered little nook which stays relatively frost-free, I should imagine.

Having said that, you have to be aware that Mr. Jacobson does come up with the phrase "In a word, it is second-rate" - so I'd take what he says as not necessarily gospel.


Re: Alexander seeds?

Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:08 pm
by Zech
Thanks for the link, Mike, that's a new site to me. Lots of interesting stuff there, I think I'll be bookmarking that one for future browsing.

"... its seeds being notably large and utterly black." That's encouraging on the ID front. This is also encouraging: "Having grown both celery and Alexanders, I find the former more fussy, and yielding less mass." I've tried growing celery and not yet managed to get a stem thicker than a pencil. Maybe I'll do better with Alexanders. I do think celery flowers are prettier, though they're so much later in the year (they're out now) that I don't know why you'd compare them.

I have plenty of seeds to play with, so I'll try chucking a few around in sheltered spots in the garden and see what happens. In a few years I'll probably be cursing them for taking over :lol:

If Mr Jacobson thinks Alexanders are second rate, I wonder why he bothers to cultivate them.

Re: Alexander seeds?

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:14 pm
by Andy Hamilton
Alexanders are known to be invasive and in places in Bristol where they have settled they have gone like wildfire. The spots I used to pick 10 years ago were once sparse and are now huge and plentiful.

They look like alexanders seeds to me too.

Re: Alexander seeds?

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:57 pm
by Zech
Cheers, Andy, and glad you agree with the ID.

Hm, maybe I'll reconsider, "Chucking them around" if there's a danger they'll be invasive. Up here in the mountains I suspect they won't be quite so happy as in Bristol, but I'd better not be too carefree with my planting.