Borago officinalis - L.
Common Name Borage, Common borage,Cool-tankard, Tailwort
Family Boraginaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards The plant, but not the oil obtained from the seeds, contains small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause liver damage and liver cancer[238]. These alkaloids are present in too small a quantity to be harmful unless you make borage a major part of your diet, though people with liver problems would be wise to avoid using the leaves or flowers of this plant[K].
Habitats Waste ground near houses in Britain[17].
Range C. Europe. A garden escape in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Bloom Color: Blue. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Irregular or sprawling.

Borago officinalis Borage, Common borage,Cool-tankard, Tailwort
Borago officinalis Borage, Common borage,Cool-tankard, Tailwort
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Borago officinalis is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to October, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Borago advena, Borago aspera, Borago hortensis

 Hedgerow; Cultivated Beds; South Wall. In. West Wall. In.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil.
Edible Uses: Colouring;  Oil;  Tea.

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 7, 14, 115, 183]. They can be used as a pot-herb or be added to salads[4]. They are also added whole as a flavouring to various drinks such as Pimms and wine-based drinks[238]. The leaves are rich in potassium and calcium, they have a salty cucumber flavour[200]. Very hairy, the whole leaves have an unpleasant feeling in the mouth and so they are best chopped up finely and added to other leaves when eaten in a salad[K]. The leaves should always be used fresh, because they lose their flavour and colour if dried[244]. Flowers - raw. They are used as a decorative garnish on salads and summer fruit drinks[2, 5, 7, 14, 183]. The flowers are very nice, both to look at and to taste with a sweet slightly cucumber-like flavour[K]. A refreshing tea is made from the leaves and/or the flowers[21, 183]. The dried stems are used for flavouring beverages[183]. The seed yields 30% oil, 20% of which is gamma-linolenic acid[141]. Total yields are 0.35 - 0.65 tonnes per hectare[141]. Unfortunately, the seed ripens intermittently over a period of time and falls from the plant when it is ripe, this makes harvesting the seeds in quantity very difficult[K]. An edible blue dye can be obtained from the flowers. It is used to colour vinegar[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Demulcent;  Depurative;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  
Hypotensive;  Lenitive;  Poultice;  Sedative;  Skin;  Women's complaints.

Borage is a fairly common domestic herbal remedy that has been used since ancient times[244]. It has a particularly good reputation for its beneficial affect on the mind, being used to dispel melancholy and induce euphoria[244]. It is a soothing saline, diuretic herb that soothes damaged or irritated tissues[238]. The leaves, and to a lesser extent the flowers, are demulcent, diaphoretic, depurative, mildly diuretic, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, lenitive and mildly sedative[4, 7, 9, 14, 201, 238]. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a range of ailments including fevers, chest problems and kidney problems[4], though it should not be prescribed to people with liver problems. Externally it is used as a poultice for inflammatory swellings[4, 7]. The leaves are harvested in late spring and the summer as the plant comes into flower. They can be used fresh or dried but should not be stored for more than one year because they soon lose their medicinal properties[238]. The seeds are a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid, this oil helps to regulate the hormonal systems and lowers blood pressure[238]. It is used both internally and externally, helping to relieve skin complaints and pre-menstrual tension[238]. Used for the treatment of phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) [301].


Other Uses
Dye;  Oil;  Repellent.

The growing plant is said to repel insects[14]. A blue dye is obtained from the flowers[7]. This turns pink on contact with acids[238].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Foundation, Massing. A very easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil[1], preferring a dry soil[37] and a sunny position[138]. It grows particularly well in loose, stony soils with some chalk and sand[244]. Plants are tolerant of poor dry soils, though much bigger specimens are produced when the plants are growing in better conditions[238]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 8.3. Borage is often grown as a culinary plant in the herb garden[1, 7]. Although an annual, it usually maintains itself by self-sowing, sometimes in quite a prolific manner, as long as the soil is disturbed by hoeing etc[14, 188]. Plants often develop mildew when growing in dry conditions or towards the end of the growing season[238]. Flowers are a deeper blue when grown in poorer soils[138]. The flowers are rich in a sweet nectar and are very attractive to bees[7, 14, 20, 108, 244]. The growing plant is a good companion for strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes and most other plants[14, 201, 238]. It is said to deter Japanese beetle and tomato hornworms[238]. Special Features:Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Suitable for dried flowers, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above.
Seed - sow April/May in situ. The plants quickly develop a stout tap-root and do not transplant successfully[238]. The seed can also be sown in situ in the autumn, this will produce larger plants and earlier flowering[4]. The plant usually self-sows prolifically.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Readers comment
   Tue Dec 28 18:56:03 2004
This plant is found in Malta/Mediterranean basin/Europe

More comprehensive details, medicinal properties, uses, botanical data, plant description and photogallery of high resolutions photos of this plant can be seen on an interesting website about the wild plants of Malta:

Link: Malta Wild Plants Website and photography by Stephen Mifsud, Malta

Gavin Patience   Sat Apr 21 2007
The annual world borage oil requirements for GLA total c 200tonnes Of this 75% is supplied by Statfold Oils of Tamworth Staffs An "alternative crop" worthy of consideration ?
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Subject : Borago officinalis  

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