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Borago Officinalis

(Common name:- Borage)


Borago Officinalis

It is commonly known as Common Borage, Common Bugloss, Bee Bread, Burrage.


It is believed to have originated probably in Aleppo, Northwestern Syria but now frequently found in Europe and North America. It is also a native of Asia Minor, Europe and North Africa. The plant grows wild in Central and Eastern Europe.

The plant's Latin name, Borago, is thought to be a corruption of corago, meaning 'I bring heart', although it may also be derived from the Italian borra or French bourra meaning rough hair or wool, and perhaps referring to the short hairs covering the plant. A third derivation may be the Celtic barrach, meaning 'man of courage'.

Plant Description

Borago is an erect bristly annual rough plant with white, stiff, prickly hairs. The round stems, about 1 1/2 feet high, are branched, hollow and succulent. This hardy plant will grow to a height of about 18 inches, and spread about 12 inches.

The leaves are alternate, large, wrinkled, deep green, oval and pointed, 3 inches long or more and about 1 1/2 inch broad with a slightly sinuous margin and bristles on both surfaces.

The blue star shaped flowers are distinguished from those of every plant in this order by their prominent black anthers, which form a cone in the centre and have been described as their beauty spot. The fruit consists of four brownish-black nutlets. The bright blue, star-shaped flowers (which bloom most of the summer) make borage one of the prettiest herb plants, thought the dark green leaves are rather plain.


It is often grown as culinary plant in herb garden both for its uses as an herb and for the sake of its flowers, which yield excellent honey. Borage flourishes in ordinary soil as it is not a fussy plant but richer the soil, the bushier the plant be. It needs full sun and need protection from wind and it needs regular watering.

It may be propagated by division of rootstocks in spring and by putting cuttings of shoots in sandy soil in a cold frame in summer and autumn, or from seeds sown in fairly good, light soil, from the middle of March to May.

The flowers are collected between April and September, the seeds when ripe in the autumn. The leaves should be gathered just as the plant is coming into flower, but can be harvested throughout the growing season.

Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. The plant actually improves the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.

Parts Used

The leaves, flowers and seed oil are often used. The flavor of the leaves resembles that of cucumber.

Main Constituents

Borage contains potassium and calcium, combined with mineral acids. The leaves and flowers contains saponins, up to 12% mucilage, tannin, vitamin C, malic acid, choline, potassium, calcium, essential oil, toxic compounds like pyrrolizidine alkaloids, lycopsamine, intermedine. The seeds contain essential fatty acids, gammalinolenic and linoleic. In the flowers, thesinine (a non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid) has been found.

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are extremely common in the Boraginaceae family, are powerful hepatotoxins that cause severe liver damage on chronic ingestion, often with lethal outcome.

The stems and leaves supply much saline mucilage, which when boiled and cooked likewise deposits nitre and common salt. Owing to the presence of nitrate of potash when burnt, it will emit sparks with a slight explosive sound.

The fatty oil obtained from borage seeds ("borage oil", "starflower oil") is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, e.g., ?-linolenic acid (20%). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids seem to occur only in negligible traces in this oil, if at all.

Culinary Uses

Medicinal Uses


French : bourrache
German : boretsch
Italian : Borrana
Spanish : Borraja
Disclaimer: The site does not advice you to take any action, we only provide information based on research done by various people world wide. One should consult their doctor, physician or an expert before taking any action or herbal/natural remedy mentioned on this website.

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