Borage

Wild borage plant, Wiltshire, May 2019.

Wild borage plant, Wiltshire, May 2019.

Latin: Borago officinalis L.

Synonyms: Burrage, bee plant, starflower.

Botanical Description:

  • Sturdy erect annual 30 – 60cm tall, stem is robust and ridged.

  • Covered in white prickly hairs all over.

  • Alternate large oval leaves.

  • Bright blue (or white) star shaped 5 petalled flowers with anthers forming a central cone; May - September.

  • Frequently found on waste ground.

Parts used: Leaves (folium), seed oil (semen).

Constituents:

  • Fixed oil – inc. GLA (does not contain PAs)

  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (toxic!)

  • Choline

Actions:

  • Emollient, demulcent, refrigerant.

  • Diuretic.

Uses:

  • Topically as a poultice or oil for atopic eczema and dermatitis

  • Has been used for fevers and pulmonary diseases *see safety.

Safety:

  • No longer recommended for internal use (especially when fresh) due to PA toxicity.

Folklore:

  • Borage for courage! – latin may be a corruption of 'corago' - “I bring courage to the heart”.

  • Pliny and Dioscorides say borage is the nepenth Homer wrote about – which, when steeped in wine and drunk, brings about forgetfulness.