Borage is an annual herb with coarse hairy leaves and stems. It grows between 2 to 3 feet tall and often spreads as wide.
Borage (Borago officinalis) is also known as “starflower” and is sometimes called “bee bread”. That’s because of the sky-blue star shaped flowers and because borage is a bee magnet.
The honey made from borage flowers has a reputation for being very fine and tasty. Many people plant borage in the vegetable garden for pollination purposes.
I grow borage in my herb garden mainly for the beautiful flowers. I like the color blue and if you ask me you can’t get enough good blues in either the flower or herb garden.
Borage is considered to be a “potherb”.
If you don’t already know, a potherb is a plant whose leaves, stems or flowers are cooked and eaten, or used fresh to season food. Fresh mint is considered to be a potherb. Kale, spinach, beet greens and many other leafy plants are examples of potherbs that are usually cooked.
At one time fresh borage flowers were preserved by being candied and during the middle ages wine was infused with borage to banish gloominess and melancholy.
Back in the 1960s it was popular to freeze the star-shaped blue flowers into ice cubes to make pretty summertime drinks. Borage flowers have a slight cucumber like taste and are used in small amounts in summer salads to impart a little zest, zing and beautiful color.
In the last few years or so, there has been interest in borage seed oil. Borage seed oil contains gamma-linolenic (GLA) and appears to have mild anti-inflammatory effect. Borage seed oil is soothing to eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and other skin disorders and is a source of prostaglandins used to treat menstrual disorders.
Borage is easy to grow in the garden. It prefers to be directly sown and thrives in a dry and sunny location. Borage readily self-sows and comes up every year from the seeds that were dropped from the previous year. Flowers are picked as they open and leaves are harvested fresh.