This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
This is a plant one may find on rubbish heaps and waste ground anywhere near the habitations of man, for it is not, strictly speaking, a native, though thoroughly well-established here. An old adage runs: "I, Borage, always bring courage," and it was supposed to brace up the heart for great enterprises. It was therefore widely cultivated in old gardens, and has survived to this day in the grounds of old houses, where it has frequently made its escape, or surplus plants have been thrown out upon the rubbish heaps. Instead of allowing itself to go the way of garden refuse, it has taken hold of the ground there, multiplied and brightened the place with its beauty.
Every part of the plant, except the corolla, bristles with short stiff hairs. It has an erect juicy stem, and rough, lance-shaped leaves, the radical ones on long footstalks, those on the stem stalkless and clasping their support. The sepals are five in number, long and narrow, cohering by their bases. The corolla is of the form technically known as rotate, that is, with the petals joined at their lower parts to a short tube, from the top of which five pointed lobes radiate. It is coloured a most brilliant and beautiful blue, such as is rarely seen in flowers. There is a pale yellow ovary that secretes honey, and around it, attached to the throat of the corolla-tube, are the five united stamens. The anthers are dark purple, and open in such manner that the pollen falls between them and the pistil, somewhat as in Viola. By this arrangement both honey and pollen are protected from the depredations of insects who have no right to it. Bees, however, in forcing their tongues down to the honeyed ovary, separate the anthers and let loose the pollen, which falls upon their heads and will be brought into contact with the stigma of another flower at their next visit. Cross-fertilization is further helped by the stigmas of a flower not becoming ripe until its anthers have shed their pollen. Flowers June and July.
Name probably from the Latin Bourra, a flock of wool, in allusion to its hairy character.
- Boragineae. The name is from the Latin, Resedo, to appease, from these plants being formerly considered as sedatives.