Thursday, August 14, 2014

Borage the Wonder Herb

It's easy to see why the beautiful star shaped flowers of the borage plant are such a bee magnet.

This old fashioned plant self seeded in my vegetable garden and since flowering it has been visited all day long by bees busying themselves collecting pollen. I had no idea it was such a useful plant for culinary and medicinal use
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Borage is in fact a herb and has a lot going for it other than it's bright blue petals. It is very undemanding in terms of soil and conditions so will thrive in most gardens and reseeds readily.The flowers are edible and can be used to decorate salads or cakes. Ice cubes made with a borage flower look really pretty in summer drinks, especially Pimms where it was traditionally used before cucumber and mint. The smaller less fuzzy leaves work well in salads and taste very similar to cucumber.

As a companion plant borage enhances the growth of tomatoes by repelling the tomato hornworm and many other fruit and vegetables such as strawberries and squash seem to benefit from nearby planting. Anything attracting bees can only do good as they increase the pollination of neighbourings plants and as we all know, we need bees.


It is worth growing for the flowers alone but in medicinal use borage excels. The seeds are made into GLA, an essential fatty acid which is said to be useful in treating depression, rheumatism, fever, colds and flu. The leaves contains high levels of vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and zinc and can be crushed to relieve insect bites.

I have even heard that it can be used to treat a hangover. Perhaps that's why it's added to Pimms!



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