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 Borago officinalis

Other Names:   

Distribution:  Naturalised throughout Britain.

Habitat:  It prefers light, free-draining soils.  It thrives in sunny situations.

Description: It is a medium to tall annual with striking, five-petalled star-like flowers of an intense blue from May to September. Sometimes the flowers can be pink.

Wildlife:  It is a good plant for bees, butterflies and moths as the flowers are rich in nectar.  The plant is often grown by beekeepers.

Uses:  Traditionally it was used as a medicinal plant and grown as a garden herb. Pliny called it Euphrosinum, due to its euphoric effect and it has long been associated with health and good cheer.  More recently it has been adopted as the symbol of National Cancer Day, as promoted by Cancer Research UK. It has been shown to contain gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is active against various cancers, including breast, brain and prostate. It prevents the spread of malignant tumours by restricting blood vessel growth.  It has the most potent concentration of GLA found in nature, containing twice as much as is found in the Evening Primrose, and which is used to treat pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).  Capsules of borage seed oil may be bought from health food shops for this purpose.  The flowers can be used in salads and drinks and the leaves may be boiled as a vegetable.

Other Notes: Borage looks well planted with Oxeye Daisies, Cornflowers and Poppies.

Sowing Instructions for Seeds:  Surface sow seed in early spring directly into the flowering site (the plants resent transplanting).  They will readily self-seed to reappear in subsequent years.