Borago officinalis produces small blue star-shaped edible flowers. There is also a white flowering borage. Flowers can be used in salads, decorative garnishes and Pimm’s. Some people eat young leaves too, which are said to be cucumber-flavoured, but the leaves are ‘hairy’ (similar to lungwort), so I stick to nibbling on the flowers.
- Grow from seed from May to July.
- Prefers full sun and well-drained, light acidic soil. Sandy.
- Can grow up to 60 cm high and spreads 80cm.
- Flowers from June to October
- Prune from August to September.
- Its rough, hairy leaves are edible and have a light, cucumber-like taste. The white flowers are also edible and add an unusual touch to summer salads!
- Borage is said to grow easily in all soils, although the plant prefers lighter, more acidic soils.
- As with many herbs, it can be slightly invasive if left unchecked, so cut the plant back fairly hard after flowering.
- Bees love borage!
Interesting random facts
- Borage has a long and interesting history in English gardens. Shakespeare’s plays mention borage as a herb ‘for courage’ and even today it is brewed into a tea said to alleviate a wide range of ailments.
- Jane Austen and her sisters grew borage in their cottage garden. They were adept gardeners and grew plants for a range of culinary and medicinal uses.
- The distinctive purple/blue five-pointed star-shaped flowers feature regularly in medieval tapestries and embroidered fabrics.