Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Backyard Nature Wednesday: Borage

Borage is an ancient herb that is native to the Middle East. Long ago, it was used as an enhancement for bravery and courage. It is an annual which grows quickly. It can get up to a foot or more wide and up to two feet tall with broad, hairy leaves. All parts of the plant are cucumber-flavored and, except for the roots, all have culinary or medicinal uses. It is a free-flowering plant that will reseed itself and may reappear in the garden from year to year. 

This plant is full of buds and is just about to burst into bloom.

Maybe you can't really tell from this picture but when the blooms open, they are shaped like a five-pointed star which gives the plant one of its common names, starflower.

Borage is a very easy plant to grow and is useful for the butterfly garden. It's very attractive to pollinators of many kinds. Borage is sometimes planted with strawberries in order to attract bees and increase the yield of fruit.

Traditionally, borage was used to treat many ailments, including such things as kidney problems. Today, it has only limited medicinal uses, but the seeds are a source of linolenic acid, a substance which is an essential part of a healthy human diet.

This old-fashioned plant also has few uses as a culinary herb these days, but the cucumber-flavored leaves can be used in teas or other beverages, and the pretty little flowers are sometimes used in decorating salads or they can be candied and used in confections. The flowers are also a staple of potpourris. Bees which feed on the flowers produce some very tasty honey.

If you want to get into growing herbs and want something that is not at all fussy and is pretty as well, you might want to give borage a try.






8 comments:

  1. It is pretty; I used to grow it years ago when I had 34 acres of land. Now, just a small plot, and it does get big. But I miss those lovely blue flowers. And a fellow blogger sent me some seed. I have no excuse.

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    1. It does take a bit of room, but I bet you could tuck it in somewhere, Alana. It is well worth it.

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  2. Replies
    1. Isn't it pretty? I think it is grown now mostly as an ornamental rather than for its medicinal or culinary properties.

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