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Borago officinalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, mountains, roadsides, scrub, seaside, towns, wasteland.

Blue, 5 petals
Borage (Borago officinalis) bears striking, star-shaped flowers that showcase a vibrant, azure hue. These blooms, characterized by their five petals arranged in a radiating pattern, are visually captivating. The distinct blue coloration, coupled with the flower's modest size, contributes to the overall charm of the plant. Each flower is a delicate yet robust structure, drawing attention with its vivid appearance. The blossoms not only serve as an ornamental feature but also attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to the ecological value of the plant.
Borage produces small, dark brown to black seeds as its fruit. These seeds are enclosed within nutlets, which are four distinctive segments that hold the seeds. The nutlets have a rough texture and are attached to the plant via a central stalk. Borage seeds are a key element for the plant's reproductive cycle, allowing it to self-seed and propagate. While the primary focus of cultivation often revolves around the herb's leaves and flowers, the seeds also hold significance for those interested in extracting borage seed oil, known for its nutritional and potential medicinal properties.
Borage is characterized by its broad, ovate leaves, which are hairy and have a rough texture. The leaves are alternate and can grow up to 4-10 cm in length. The prominent hairs on the leaves give them a somewhat coarse appearance and contribute to the plant's overall texture. The leaves are deep green in colour, providing a lush backdrop to the vibrant blue star-shaped flowers that adorn the plant. Culinary enthusiasts often use borage leaves as an edible herb, appreciated for their mild cucumber-like flavour. Additionally, the leaves contain essential nutrients, adding both visual and nutritional value to this versatile herb.
Borage is not particularly known for a strong or distinctive scent. The plant is prized more for its culinary uses, especially the mild cucumber-like flavour of its leaves and flowers, rather than its aromatic qualities. While some individuals may detect a subtle, herbal fragrance when handling the plant, its scent is generally not a prominent feature. The appeal of borage often lies in its visual charm, versatility in the kitchen, and potential medicinal properties rather than any notable fragrance.
Other Names:
Bee Plant, Beebread, Bugloss, Burrage, Common Bugloss, Cool Tankard, Ox's Tongue, Starflower, Tailwort, Talewort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Borago officinalis, also known as borage or starflower, is a annual flowering plant that is native to Mediterranean regions. It is a member of the Boraginaceae family and is closely related to other members of the Borago genus, such as forget-me-nots and heliotropes. The plant is known for its clusters of blue, star-shaped flowers that are borne on tall, hairy stems above the foliage. It has hairy, green leaves and grows to be about 1-2 feet tall. B. officinalis is a popular garden plant and is often used as an ornamental plant or in herb gardens. It is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is attractive to pollinators and is a popular nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other insects. It is also used medicinally in some traditional cultures and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin irritation. The leaves, flowers, and oil of the plant are also used in cooking and are known for their cucumber-like flavor.


Borage, also known as Borago officinalis, is an herb that is commonly used in traditional medicine, as well as in cooking and cosmetics.

The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is now widely cultivated in other parts of the world, including North America and Europe. Borage has bright blue star-shaped flowers that bloom from spring to summer, and it is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that can grow in most soils.

In traditional medicine, borage has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory problems, skin conditions, and digestive disorders. The plant is rich in various compounds, including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties.

Borage is also used in cooking, especially in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. The leaves and stems of the plant are edible and have a slightly cucumber-like flavor, making them a popular ingredient in salads and other dishes. The seeds of the plant can be pressed to produce borage oil, which is high in GLA and is used in cosmetics and other health and wellness products.

Borage is known for its numerous health benefits, making it a popular ingredient in natural remedies. Some of the key benefits of borage include:

  1. Anti-Inflammatory: Borage oil is rich in GLA, which is a type of essential fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. This makes it useful for treating conditions like arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

  2. Skin Health: Borage oil is also used in cosmetics due to its moisturizing properties. It can help to improve skin hydration, reduce redness, and soothe dry and itchy skin.

  3. Hormonal Balance: Borage oil is believed to help regulate hormone levels, making it a useful remedy for conditions like PMS, menopause, and other hormonal imbalances.

  4. Respiratory Health: In traditional medicine, borage has been used to treat respiratory problems like coughs and colds. The plant is believed to help clear mucus from the lungs and soothe sore throats.

  5. Digestive Health: Borage is also believed to have digestive benefits, making it useful for treating conditions like indigestion, bloating, and constipation.

Aside from its medicinal properties, borage is also popular in cooking. The leaves and stems of the plant have a slightly cucumber-like flavor, making them a popular ingredient in salads and other dishes. Borage flowers can also be used as a decorative garnish, adding a pop of color to any dish.

In addition to its health benefits, borage is also an easy plant to grow in your garden. It can be grown from seeds, and it is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that can thrive in most soils. Borage also attracts beneficial insects to your garden, such as bees and butterflies, making it an excellent choice for those who are interested in natural gardening and creating a diverse, thriving ecosystem in their backyard.

Another great aspect of borage is its versatility in the kitchen. The leaves and stems can be used fresh or cooked, and they can be added to salads, soups, stews, and more. The seeds of the plant can be pressed to produce borage oil, which is high in GLA and can be used in cooking and cosmetics.

In terms of cooking, borage pairs well with a variety of flavors and ingredients. For example, it can be used to make a refreshing summer soup with cucumbers and yogurt, or it can be added to a salad with feta cheese and lemon vinaigrette. The plant also pairs well with herbs like basil, mint, and parsley, making it a versatile ingredient in a wide range of dishes.

Overall, borage is an incredibly useful and versatile plant that offers numerous benefits for your health, garden, and kitchen. Whether you are interested in using it for its medicinal properties, or simply want to add flavor to your dishes, borage is an excellent choice to consider.

30 Amazing Borage Facts

  1. Edible Delight: Borage (Borago officinalis) is an edible herb known for its cucumber-like taste, making it a popular addition to salads and drinks.

  2. Star-Shaped Blooms: The plant produces vibrant, star-shaped flowers that range in color from blue to pink, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.

  3. Self-Seeding Wonder: Borage is a self-seeding plant, meaning it can reseed itself and return year after year with minimal effort from gardeners.

  4. Rich in Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA): Borage oil is a rich source of GLA, an essential fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit skin health.

  5. Companion Plant: Borage is often used as a companion plant in gardens as it helps repel pests and improves the flavor of nearby plants, like tomatoes.

  6. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, borage has been used for its medicinal properties, believed to alleviate various ailments, including respiratory issues and stress.

  7. Nutrient-Rich Leaves: The leaves of the borage plant are not only edible but also packed with nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium.

  8. Historical Significance: Borage has a rich history and was used by ancient civilizations like the Romans and Greeks for its culinary and medicinal benefits.

  9. Drought-Tolerant: Borage is known for its resilience and can thrive in a variety of soil types. It's also relatively drought-tolerant once established.

  10. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The presence of essential fatty acids in borage contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties, potentially aiding in the management of inflammatory conditions.

  11. Garden Ornament: Beyond its practical uses, borage is often grown for its ornamental value, adding a touch of beauty to gardens with its striking blue flowers.

  12. Quick Growth: Borage is a fast-growing plant, reaching maturity within weeks. This rapid growth makes it a great choice for filling in garden spaces or as a cover crop.

  13. Bees' Delight: Bees are particularly attracted to borage flowers, making it a valuable addition to gardens aiming to support pollinator populations.

  14. Culinary Garnish: Borage flowers are used as a decorative garnish in culinary creations, adding a pop of color and mild cucumber flavor to dishes.

  15. Folklore Love Potion: In folklore, borage was considered a love potion, and the flowers were often used to enhance courage and lift the spirits.

  16. Traditional Remedy for Stress: Borage has been historically used as a remedy for stress and nervous tension, with its calming properties making it a popular choice in herbal medicine.

  17. Detoxification: The diuretic properties of borage have been recognized for their potential to support kidney function and promote detoxification.

  18. Anti-Aging Properties: Borage oil is sometimes incorporated into skincare products for its potential anti-aging benefits, helping to nourish and rejuvenate the skin.

  19. Seeds in Culinary Use: Borage seeds, often called "borage caviar," are used as a flavorful addition to dishes and can be pickled for a unique culinary experience.

  20. Borage Tea: The leaves of the borage plant can be steeped to make a refreshing herbal tea, known for its mild flavor and potential soothing effects.

  21. Compost Enhancer: Borage leaves can be used in compost to accelerate the decomposition process, enriching the soil with valuable nutrients.

  22. Easy to Grow: Borage is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow from seeds, making it a favorite among both experienced and novice gardeners.

  23. Culinary Butterfly Attractor: In addition to bees, borage flowers attract butterflies, enhancing the beauty and biodiversity of the garden.

  24. Height and Spread: Borage typically grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet and has a spread of about 1 to 1.5 feet, creating a bushy and robust appearance.

  25. Borage in Pimms: Borage leaves are a classic garnish in the traditional British drink Pimms, adding a touch of freshness to the cocktail.

  26. Seed Oil Production: Borage seeds are pressed to extract borage seed oil, which is used for various purposes, including culinary and cosmetic applications.

  27. Anti-Depressant Properties: Some studies suggest that borage may have anti-depressant properties, potentially contributing to mood enhancement.

  28. Traditional Culinary Uses: Borage has been used in traditional cuisines around the world, with the leaves and flowers finding their way into soups, salads, and sauces.

  29. Complementary to Beekeeping: Planting borage near beehives is a practice among beekeepers, as it provides a nectar source for bees and contributes to honey production.

  30. Herbal Infusions: Borage leaves are often used in herbal infusions, providing a refreshing and mildly sweet flavor to the brewed beverage.


Borage filmed at Hidcote in Gloucestershire on the 30th June 2023.


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