Borage (Borago Officinalis)

 
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Description

Admired for centuries, borage has developed its own fascinating folklore, while its sky blue starry flowers with small black centres, are surely some of the very prettiest in the herb garden. Less common but no less pretty are the white flowering and pink flowering versions.

Culinary uses

Most people encounter Borage in a Pimms. The lovely flowers shout out British Summertime. But don't stop at drinks. Borage leaves seem a wee bit hairy, but don't let that stop you chopping them finely for a salad. They will add a delicate, cool-as-a-cucumber flavour. Sprinkle gorgeous Borage flowers over your salad too and turn it into an artwork. 

Bursting with mineral salts, fresh borage leaves might help you reduce your salt intake too. 

History

The Celtic name for borage, borrach, translates as ‘courage’ and both the Greeks and Romans regarded it as being not only comforting but also imparting courage, and it is said that those lovely blue flowers were floated in stirrup cups to give courage to the Crusaders before they set off. Gerard made even more ambitious claims, stating the ‘gallant blew floures’ in wine, drive ‘away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy’, stating also that ‘those of our time do use the flowers in sallads to exhilarate and make the mind glad’, so get chopping those leaves I say and pick up your salad servers.

Note: Homer mentioned that borage caused forgetfulness when mixed with wine. Can we really blame borage?

Growing tips

Borage is a hardy plant and will grow robustly in your garden, self seeding with abandon. Sow seeds in Spring and you will reap the benefits speedily with fully grown plants in 5 – 6 weeks but please take care to deadhead the flowers unless you really want a garden full of borage plants.

Other names

Starflower, Bugloss, Burrage, Bee Borage

 
Chris White