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March 2008
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What is Borage ?

Thought to originate in Syria, borage is now naturalized throughout most of Europe and the United States. It flourishes as a weed near houses and on rubbish heaps. While many modern gardeners consider it a nuisance, it was traditionally grown in gardens to use as an herb, for its edible flowers, and for its ability to increase the yields of honey.

The plant is easily recognized by its white prickly hairs and its bright blue star-shaped flowers. It grows to about 1-2 ft high, with many hollow, almost succulent branching stems. The ovate to lanceolate leaves are 3 inch long and 1-1/2 inch wide, growing in an alternate pattern up the stems. The lower leaves are stalked, with stiff one-celled hairs on the upper surface as well as on the veins below. The deep green leaves have sinuous, wavy margins. The inch-wide bright blue star-shaped flowers have prominent black anthers forming a cone in the center. The fruits consist of brownish-black nutlets in groups of four.

Borage does well in ordinary soil. It can be propagated by division of rootstocks, however, it is easily grown from seed, which it does quite successfully on its own year after year. The seeds often grow in the same place.

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