Flowers - raw. They are used as a decorative garnish on salads and summer fruit drinks. The flowers are very nice, both to look at and to taste with a sweet slightly cucumber-like flavour[K]. A refreshing tea is made from the leaves and/or the flowers. The dried stems are used for flavouring beverages. The seed yields 30% oil, 20% of which is gamma-linolenic acid. Total yields are 0.35 - 0.65 tonnes per hectare. Unfortunately, the seed ripens intermittently over a period of time and falls from the plant when it is ripe, this makes harvesting the seeds in quantity very difficult[K].An edible blue dye can be obtained from the flowers. It is used to colour vinegar.
The leaves, and to a lesser extent the flowers, are demulcent, diaphoretic, depurative, mildly diuretic, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, lenitive and mildly sedative. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a range of ailments including fevers, chest problems and kidney problems, though it should not be prescribed to people with liver problems. Externally it is used as a poultice for inflammatory swellings. The leaves are harvested in late spring and the summer as the plant comes into flower. They can be used fresh or dried but should not be stored for more than one year because they soon lose their medicinal properties.The seeds are a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid, this oil helps to regulate the hormonal systems and lowers blood pressure. It is used both internally and externally, helping to relieve skin complaints and pre-menstrual tension.
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Borage is often grown as a culinary plant in the herb garden. Although an annual, it usually maintains itself by self-sowing, sometimes in quite a prolific manner, as long as the soil is disturbed by hoeing etc. Plants often develop mildew when growing in dry conditions or towards the end of the growing season. Flowers are a deeper blue when grown in poorer soils. The flowers are rich in a sweet nectar and are very attractive to bees.The growing plant is a good companion for strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes and most other plants. It is said to deter Japanese beetle and tomato hornworms.
Problems, pests & diseases
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