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Boraginaceae: Borage Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Boraginaceae
Plants of the Borage Family

      If you have ever pulled "beggar's ticks" (flat, tear-drop-shaped stickers) from your clothes, then you have met one member of the Borage family, also called "hound's tongue" (Cynoglossum) The plants of this family are often rough and hairy, usually with simple, alternate leaves. The flowers are bisexual and mostly regular. They have 5 separate sepals and 5 united petals. There are 5 stamens; these are attached to the corolla tube, alternate with the petals. The ovary is positioned superior. It consists of 2 united carpels and produces 4 separate nutlets or sometimes achenes (dry seeds). False partitions may make the ovary appear 4-chambered. Some genera produce fewer than 4 nutlets due to abortion. You will usually be able to see the aborted nutlets around the developed ones.

      Worldwide, the traditional Borage family included approximately 100 genera, representing about 2,000 species, including about 22 genera in North America. Taxonomists have expanded the family to include the previously separate Waterleaf family as a subfamily.

      Medicinally, these plants are primarily astringent, good internally as tea or externally as poultices for pretty much any wounds or excretions that need an astringent to tighten up the tissues. A few members of the family are also mucilaginous, useful for their emollient properties. Some contain volatile oils and may serve as an antidote to poisons by functioning as diaphoretics. Many members of this family have irritating hairs that may cause dermatitis on some individuals. Also, several plants contain minute amounts of poisonous alkaloids, making them toxic with sustained use.

Key Words: Hairy plants with flower parts in fives. Four nutlets.

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Cryptantha sp. Miner's Candle.

Cryptantha sp. Miner's Candle. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Cryptantha sp. Miner's Candle.

Cryptantha sp. Miner's Candle. Chatfield State Park. Denver, Colorado.

Cryptantha confertiflora. Yellow Cryptantha.

Cryptantha confertiflora. Yellow Cryptantha. Escalante River. Utah.

Cryptantha confertiflora. Yellow Cryptantha.

Cryptantha confertiflora. Yellow Cryptantha. Escalante River. Utah.

Cynoglossum officinale. Hound's Tongue or Beggar's Ticks.

Cynoglossum officinale. Hound's Tongue or Beggar's Ticks. An introduced, invasive weed from Eurasia. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Mertensia longiflora. Small Bluebells or Long Bluebells.

Mertensia longiflora. Small Bluebells / Long Bluebells. Known as "small bluebells" due to the diminuitive size of the plant, but also has "long bluebells" for the long floral tubes. Methow Valley, Washington.

Mertensia paniculata. Tall Bluebells.

Mertensia paniculata. Tall Bluebells.

Mertensia ciliata. Mountain Bluebells.

Mertensia ciliata. Mountain Bluebells. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Lithospermum ruderale. Stoneseed.

Lithospermum ruderale. Stoneseed.

Lithospermum ruderale. Stoneseed.

Lithospermum ruderale. Stoneseed.

Lithospermum incisum. Yellow Stoneseed.

Lithospermum incisum. Yellow Stoneseed. Pony, Montana

Lithospermum incisum. Yellow Stoneseed.

Lithospermum incisum. Yellow Stoneseed. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Utah.

Hackelia micrantha. Blue Stickseed.

Hackelia micrantha. Blue Stickseed.

Hackelia micrantha. Blue Stickseed.

Hackelia micrantha. Blue Stickseed.

Myosotis alpestris. Forget-Me-Nots.

Myosotis alpestris. Forget-Me-Nots.

Myosotis alpestris. Forget-Me-Nots.

Myosotis alpestris. Forget-Me-Nots.

Myosotis palustris (a.k.a. Myosotis scorpioides). Water Forget-Me-Nots.

Myosotis palustris. (a.k.a. Myosotis scorpioides.) Water Forget-Me-Nots. Halfway, Oregon.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West

Viper's Bugloss: Echium vulgare.

Viper's Bugloss: Echium vulgare. Viper's bugloss is native to Eurasia, but widely naturalized North America and New Zealand.

Viper's Bugloss: Echium vulgare.

Viper's Bugloss: Echium vulgare.

Amsinckia menziesii. Fiddleneck

Amsinckia menziesii. Fiddleneck

Amsinckia menziesii. Fiddleneck

Amsinckia menziesii. Fiddleneck

Eritrichium nanum. Alpine Forget-Me-Nots.

Eritrichium nanum. Alpine Forget-Me-Nots. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West

There are more
Borage Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Identify plants with
Botany in a Day
Foraging the Mountain West
Start feasting with
Foraging the Mountain West

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Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
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