April 24, 2017

Sky-Blue Sparkle

Borago officinalis - Borage

Janine Pineo Photo | Borago officinalis – Borage

The prickly borage, or Borago officinalis, is one of the prettiest herbs one can plant. Topped with sky-blue stars, the plant is also known as starflower. The stiff hairs that cover the leaves and stems give the plant a fuzzy look, setting off the smooth clusters of flowers that blossom with abandon all summer. This Mediterranean native can often self-seed (in fact the plant you see pictured is from a volunteer this spring), although it grows easily from seed if directly sown. The leaves are edible – with a cucumber-like taste – and centuries ago used as potherb, with young leaves used in salads. The flowers have long been candied and used as edible decorations. Medicinally, borage has been used for hundreds of years for a variety of ailments. Today, borage seed oil is being studied for its efficacy in treating, among other illnesses, rheumatoid arthritis and lung conditions. Like any herb, read up on its uses and side effects before trying.