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Borage (Borago officinalis)

Description: 2-ft annual originating from Syria, with star-shaped sapphire and pink blossoms, loved by bees. Known as Herb of Gladness for its exhilarating effect. Add chopped leaves and flowers to summer drinks or salads. Also called Starflower. (Approx. 50 seeds)

Cultivation: Borage grows well in average garden soil and tolerates quite poor dry soils. It will flourish in sun or partial shade. It is easy to start from seed and self-sows profusely but is difficult to transplant because of its taproot. Space plants a foot or two apart. Plants take about eight weeks to mature and will continue blooming until first frost.

Uses: Bees love borage so pay attention when harvesting. The fresh leaves and flowers of borage have a delicate cucumber-like flavour. Young leaves are good chopped in salad or boiled as a potherb but most people rather use the flowers as a colourful and tasty addition to salads. Grasp the flower stem behind the sepals, then pinch and pull the anthers and the corolla will come off. Borage has become well known in the last ten years as the richest plant source of gammalinoleic acid; the seed oil is processed as a dietary supplement in the treatment of essential fatty-acid deficiency.

Seed Saving: It is quite difficult to harvest borage seed because most seeds shatter and fall to the ground before you can blink. The seed saver must make frequent forays. Commercial harvest of the seed is quite sophisticated and most people will probably be content to pluck the flowers for enlivening salads. Borage is for courage say all the old herbals.