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!



Bee on white borage at the allotment, early May 2020.

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.