Borage is without a doubt, one of the most amazing flowering plants found in North America. It’s great for making medicine, it’s edible, and when in full bloom, attracts pollinators in large numbers. The flowers can actually be ready with fresh nectar within two minutes of the last insect or bee visit, which makes a borage patch a busy place on a warm summer day.
Common borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual flowering plant that is often called the starflower plant due to the shape of the flowers. One unique thing about borage is that it is so proficient in self-seeding, than many people think its a perennial. It originates from the area around the Mediterranean Sea, but has been naturalized across much of the world. Borage grows in most soil types and likes to be watered often and thrives in full sun.
The plant itself is hairy all over with a prickly feel. Mature plants will be 18″ to 24″ in height and if left alone, will spread rapidly. It flowers starting in early June through the summer and depending on the climate, can produce flowers into early November. One interesting thing to note about borage flowers are their color. The same plant can produce a range of colors which include deep blue, light blue, purple, and light magenta.
The entire borage plant is useful in natural medicine. The flowers themselves are edible and are often used as a salad topping for color and pizazz. The green portion of the plant has high levels o f gamma-linolenic acid, an anti-inflammatory compound.
We use borage flowers to make our tincture, rather than the entire plant. Once the plants start flowering, production will increase exponentially over a period of about two weeks. We hand harvest fresh flowers each night, which are then air dried away from direct sunlight, to preserve the color and medicinal qualities. At peak production time during midseason, each 100′ foot area produces 5,000-6,000 flowers nightly, which when dried only yield a few ounces. It’s a labor of love for us, and a real gift to anyone who uses our tincture.
Historically the flowers have been used for fever, cough, and depression. They are also used for adrenal insufficiency, to increase urine flow, as a sedative, blood purifier, and to promote sweating. There is also literature touting the use of borage to increase breast milk production.