Borago officinalis, commonly known as borage or starflower, is one of a host of herbs with origins in the Mediterranean region.
It’s a member of the Boraginaceae family of plants, which includes forget-me-not and heliotrope. Naturalized in the United States, it grows in a wild and weedy fashion, sporting its signature blue star blossoms, and fuzzy leaves and drooping buds.
Tasty and Beneficial
As an edible plant, it’s not only a pretty addition to a garden, but a functional one. The seeds, leaves, and flowers are often used in culinary and herbal applications.
Best eaten fresh, its tender young leaves and stems have a delicious cucumber-like flavor, and the flowers make tasty and attractive garnishes. Oil is derived from the seeds.
From a medicinal standpoint, B. officinalis is believed to possess beneficial emollient, diuretic, and sedative properties.
A Favorite of Pollinators
In addition to benefits to people, this herb provides a valuable source of nectar for bees – a noteworthy feature, considering our dwindling pollinator populations.
And, although each stunning flower blooms for only a day, the plant blooms continually throughout the summer months, providing a substantial pollen supply.
An annual by definition, B. officinalis behaves like a perennial. It is a self-sower that ensures its future by dropping seeds in autumn that germinate the following spring.
This is an adaptable plant that thrives in any soil, requires low to moderate moisture, and can withstand drought conditions.
It prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade, and may reach over two feet in height. For best results, start from seed.
Borago officinalis Plant Facts
- Annual herb
- Average to low moisture
- Easy to grow
- Full sun to part shade
- Grows from seed
- Introduced species
- May reach over two feet in height
- Well-drained soil
- Zones 2 to 11
Where to Buy
Borage seeds are available from True Leaf Market in 1-ounce and 4-ounce packages.
A Cheerful Companion
The ideal location for a plant like B. officinalis is a sunny meadow where it has room to spread, with no need to behave like a well-manicured ornamental plant. There’s nothing lovelier than a field of blue humming with happy bees.
And while I’m partial to native plants, I must admit that this introduced species has much to offer. In addition to being edible and medicinal, it is a good companion plant.
Plant some borage between your plants to ward off the diseases and pests common to them. Just remember you’re sowing a vigorous grower, and don’t let it take over!
Is borage an herb that you grow for medicinal or culinary use? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Product photo via True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!