Scientific Name : Borago officinalis
Other name: Starflower
Borage is an annual in the Boraginaceae family. It is a prolific seeder so can become a nuisance if it is allowed to mature. The species name shows that it has medicinal uses. Borage or Starflower oil, pressed from the seeds is high in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The Romans infused the leaves in wine to relieve depression and to improve the mood. John Gerard mentioned this use in his Herball or General Historie of Plantes in 1636.
The leaves can be used to induce sweating, as a diuretic, to sooth a sore throat and applied externally to sooth irritated skin. It contains harmful alkaloids so should only be taken medicinally if prescribed by a herbalist.
There are also culinary uses for Borage due to the cucumber flavour of the leaves. Young leaves and flowers make a garnish for salads. Chopped leaves can be added to soups or cooked with cabbage (one third Borage). Perhaps the best known use is the addition to drinks - the flowers and finely chopped leaves can be included with Pimms or fruit punches imparting a mild cucumber flavour. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid as it can induce the flow of milk.
The dark green, ovate leaves have wavy edges arranged alternately on the stems. A mature plant has many stems which are hollow and can be up to 70 cm in height. The lower leaves and stems are covered with stiff hairs.
The flowers are star-shaped and can have a number of shades of blues and pinks with black anthers in their centres. Borage is an important nectar source for Honeybees.
Hoe or hand pull seedlings, more mature plants have large taptoots. The hairs can be very irritant, so it may be advisable to wear gloves when handling them. Also a mask may be needed to avoid inhaling them, especially if the foliage has dried.
Weedkillers to use:-
A residual herbicide to supress germination.
Paraquat, Diquat, contact action killing top growth, apply before flowering.
Glyphosate kills the whole plant, but it may be capable of shedding viable seed.
(17th century astrologer-physician)
" The leaves, flowers and seeds are good to expel pensiveness and melancholy"
Other plants with similar leaves include Comfrey, Tuberous Comfrey, Green Alkanet and Foxgloves
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