by Daphne Lambert

Borage Borago officinali

Borage, also known as starflower & beebush is an annual herb that is easy to grow from seed, tolerates most soils and readily self seeds so will keep coming up year after year.  In the garden, borage attracts pollinators, and is a good companion plant, strawberries, tomatoes and squash all flourish near a borage plant.  Borage adds trace minerals to the soil it is planted in, and is good for composting and mulching. It has long been cultivated in gardens for its attractive bright blue, star shaped flowers, their prominent black anthers carry quantities of pollen making borage very attractive to bees.

Borage is traditionally used to give courage, it is an uplifting herb and soothes grief and sadness. It is cooling & cleansing with anti-inflammatory properties.  Borage is used as an adrenal tonic to balance and restore the health of the adrenal glands following periods of stress.

This herb is also the highest known plant source of the omega 6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).  The seed oil is often sold as a GLA supplement.  Borage is also a source of B vitamins, beta-carotene, fiber, choline, and trace minerals. The leaves are a good source of vitamin C. According to Bertram’s encyclopedia of herbal medicine,  borage helps to prevent inflammation of the stomach and intestines in cases of toxicity, allergy and infection.  He also mentions that it is an old Italian remedy to increase breast milk in nursing mothers promote lactation, relieve fevers, and promote sweating. The soothing mucilage in borage makes it a beneficial treatment for dry cough

Externally, the fresh juice from the leaves can be applied to burns, insect bites, stings or boils.

The young leaves can be added to salads and the blue flowers tossed in both green and fruit salads. Borage flowers, according to sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard, "exhilarate and make the minde glad."  Gerard wrote that a syrup of the flowers could "comforteth the heart" and "purgeth melancholy." It also captures the plant's lovely cucumber flavour.

Borage syrup
250ml  water
200ml honey
250ml borage flowers

In a small pan boil the water, remove from the heat, add the honey and stir until completely dissolved. Place the borage flowers into a bowl and pour over the syrup. Let steep over night. Strain into a jug through a fine-mesh strainer, pour into a sterilised bottle, fasten the lid and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.