Friday, November 7, 2014

How I use herbs - Borage

Borage (Borago officinalis L, not to be confused with broage) is a herbaceous annual leafy herb, native of the Mediterranean region. While borage is a very old garden plant, more recently is has been cultivated to harvest the seed oil, which is apparently high in gamma-linolenic acid. I grow borage to attract bees, to make herbal tea from the leaves and to occasionally surprise Pete with flowers in his work lunch.

eight acres: how to grow and use borage


How I grow borage

Borage grows VERY easily. I planted seeds by scattering them around the garden once, a couple of years ago, and now I just pull out unwanted borage plants and leave a few to prosper in different areas of the garden. I have harvested seeds to send to people for seed swaps, and I cannot imagine how they are harvested on an industrial scale. The seeds are tiny, four per flower, and they dislodge very easily! In some climates borage doesn’t grow and flower through winter, but I can grow it all year in the sub-tropics as long as it has enough water in dry periods.

How I use borage

All parts of the borage plant can be used, including the leaves, flowers and seeds. I dry leaves and flowers to add to herbal tea mixtures (Borage tea is said to help induce psychic powers, although I can’t confirm this claim!). I also pick fresh leaves (the smaller ones are less prickly) to chop and add to salads (and the flowers can be scattered on top, they are slightly sweet). It can also be cooked.

Medicinally, borage is used for gastrointestinal, respiratory and car diovascular disorders. It is also used for skin conditions, and I use it to make an infused oil for salves and soap making. It can also be used to make tinctures. I am interested in the seed oil, but I think you would have to eat an awful lots of seeds to get any benefit!

In the garden, borage is a companion plant to legumes, spinach, brassicas, strawberries and tomatoes (although I just let it come up everywhere).

Bees love borage because it produces so much nectar, in fact it is rated as one of the top plants for producing nectar and pollen throughout the year

Do you grow borage?  Do you use borage?  What about borage seed oil?


See my other herb posts: mintaloe verabasilginger, galangal and turmericcalendula, marigold and winter tarragonsoapwortcomfreynasturtium, and parsley.



6 comments:

  1. I grow borage and love its blue and sometimes pink flowers. The bees love it which is the main reason I grow it. Its pretty much a plant anyone can grow because as you say it self seeds readily but seedlings are easy to remove if they pop up somewhere you don't want them. I've never considered making tea with it. I think I shall give it a go.

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  2. Just getting back to you on my mothers "get rid of ants" recipe...it's a mixture of Borax powder and icing sugar and you need to add something that ants can't resist like honey or syrup or something ants like. Mum mixes it on something disposable like a piece of cardboard then the ants will be drawn to it because of the sweetness and then go off and die. She has used this one for a long time but you would need to make sure children or pets didn't think to eat it because of the borax powder. Hope this helps. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

    Don't think it is poisonous but check the borax pack.

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  3. We, like you, let it self seed, just weeding out the unwanted plants. We keep bees and they can visit the flowers as a quick point of call even if there is just a little warmth. I have a chair placed next to the main clump of Borage and sit talking to the bees who, as you say, love these flowers.
    We have tried to catch seeds but never seem to get many as there seems to be a crucial time that they are ready. It must be difficult to harvest them.
    The only way I use the plant other than a bee cafe is to sprinkle the flowers in salads.
    Gill

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  4. Thanks Liz. Now I know what to do with all my borage.

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  5. I love borage because it doesn't need any attention and is so pretty in the garden. It only pops up where it knows it can grow. As far as herbs are concerned, this is up there with rosemary and lavender, as real die-hard survivors. Who doesn't want a flowering plant in the garden, that virtually looks after itself?

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  6. Great post! I love borage and go have it everywhere in my garden, self seeded if course. Yes the bees adore the stuff. I didn't realise you could eat the leaves. I've never tried the oil, but will dry leaves and flowers for tea. I just so happen to have it growing next to my strawberries! :)

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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