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What Is a Borage Plant?

By Lisa Dorward
Borage Flower
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Olivier

The borage plant is an herb indigenous to most European and Mediterranean countries. It has some interesting characteristics and medicinal uses, although be aware of the hazards before attempting to grow it or ingest any part of the plant.

Habitat

Although the borage plant grows in the wild like a weed in Europe, it can be difficult to grow in cultivated gardens in the United States.

History

Dating back to the Roman Empire, herbalists have used borage as a treatment for melancholia and to promote gladness and courage. The entomology of the name may be derived from the Celtic word, "burrach" which means "man of courage."

Physical Characteristics

The plant has numerous white, prickly hairs covering the leaves and stems of the entire plant. "Burra" in Latin means a "flock of wool."

Flowers

The plant blooms in the summer. Flowers are blue or purple and star-shaped, with a slight cucumber taste. While the flowers and seeds are edible and perfectly safe, the leaves and stems can cause liver damage if ingested.

Uses

Today, borage flowers have a wide variety of uses including as a tea and as a decoration for salads. Better Homes and Gardens even recommends freezing the flowers in ice cubes to spruce up summer drinks.

 

About the Author

 

Lisa Dorward was a corporate financial executive and business consultant for more than 15 years before becoming a writer in 2003. She has B.A. degrees in both history and creative writing and earned her M.F.A. in creative writing in 2008, specializing in novel-length historical fiction.