Borage Family –  Boraginaceae

The Borage family of over 100 genera and 2000 species has a worldwide distribution. It includes Borage, Comfrey, Heliotrope, Myosotis (Forget-me-not), Echium (Vipers Bugloss), Anchusa (Alkanet),  Brunnera (Siberian bugloss) and  Pulmonaria (Lungwort),  Flowers are generally blue but pink in bud.  Many species are hairy. Many are wild flowers in Britain, native or introduced. Flowers are often arranged  in scorpioid cymes – like a scorpions tail which is tightly coiled before the flowers open as shown in the Wood Forget-me-not and Comfrey. Flowers usually have 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens and 1 style.

Wood Forget-me-not flowers
Comfrey flowers
Russian Comfrey plant

Russian Comfrey Symphytum x uplandicum was introduced to Britain in the 19th century and is used as an organic fertiliser. It is the Comfrey most likely to be seen in Britain on roadsides, hedge banks and woods. Its flowers are arranged in the form of a scorpioid cyme. 

common heliotrope flowers

Common Heliotrope Heliotropium arborescens was introduced to Europe in 1757 from Chile. Flowers are arranged in scorpioid cymes. It flowers from June to September.

vipers bugloss flowers

Viper’s Bugloss Echium vulgare is a native wild flower found throughout Britain and also Europe and Western Asia

borage flower

Borage Borago officinalis has a hairy stem and 5 brown, hairy, narrow sepals, 5 bright blue petals and 5 dark purple stamens that surround a single style to form a column. Probably introduced from the Mediterranean region by the Romans.

Wood Forget-me-not flowers

Wood Forget-me-not Myosotis sylvatica is a native wild flower found in damp woods throughout Britain. Flowers are arranged in a scorpioid cyme. Flowers in May and June. 

Green Alkanet flowers

Green Alkanet Pentaglottis sempervirens, an introduced wild flower, naturalized in hedgerows and woodland edges across Britain, flowers from April to July.

Siberian Bugloss flowers

Siberian Bugloss Brunnera macrophylla is a species native to the Caucasus, introduced in 1800 and used as ground cover in gardens in Britain.

lungwort flower

Lungwort Pulmonaria officinalis is a cottage garden favourite. It flowers from April to May. They are called lungworts because the leaves are often spotted and look like diseased lungs for which they were used as a treatment.