Borage Family

Common Fiddleneck © AFengler

Boraginaceae (bor-aj-in-AY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Plants often with bristly hairs
    • Flower clusters usually coiled
    • Corolla tube of 5 fused petals

    Description (Jepson)

      • Herbs, shrubs, and small trees (also desert-dwelling, subterranean root parasites in the genus Pholisma)
      • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
        • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
        • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
        • Flower parts in fours and fives
        • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
        • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
        • Taproot system
      • Leaves
        • Generally narrow, simple (not divided into leaflets)
        • Alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem)
      • Flowers
        • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) generally a cyme (branched stem with flowers opening from the top down)
          • Usually coiled like a fiddlehead (scorpioid cyme)
        • Bisexual, generally radially-symmetric flowers, with 5 fused petals in a corolla tube (corolla is the collective term for petals)
        • Petals usually have appendages which form a crown, most often a different color than the rest of the corolla
        • Ovary usually superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
      • Fruits are 4 single-seeded nutlets (a small, dry fruit that does not split open, derived from a multi-chambered ovary); some may not mature
      Scorpioid Cyme © JMason


        • Approximately 2,300 species worldwide
          • Includes forget-me-nots, yerba santa, comfrey, and fiddlenecks
        • Plants often rough with bristly hairs, which may irritate skin
        • Many genera may be toxic from pyrrolizidine alkaloids or accumulated nitrates
        • Scientific name from the included Mediterranean genus borago, from an ancient name of uncertain origin; perhaps from the Latin burra, “a hairy garment,” alluding to the hairy leaves
        • Also called the Forget-me-not family
        • Represented by 17 species at Edgewood

        See General References

        Specific References

          Mason, J. 2004. Cyme [Illustration]. In T. Corelli, Flowering Plants of Edgewood Natural Preserve, 2nd. ed. Monocot Press, Half Moon Bay, California.

            Mehlig, U. 2006, Jul. 22. Ovary insertion [Illustration, adapted]. Wikipedia. (c) CC BY NC 3.0.

            Browse Some Edgewood Plants in this Family