ABRAHAM-ISAAC-JACOB

ORIENTAL BORAGE

Trachystemon orientalis

Borage Family [Boraginaceae]

month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8may

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8blue
inner
inner8mauve
inner
inner8white
inner
inner8indigo
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZpanicle
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round



20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Surprisingly all plants are nearly the very same height.


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
The flowers are purple/blue and from afar could be mistaken for those of Tansy-Leaved Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) or Russian Comfrey (Symphitum × uplandicum).


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
The flowers are in dense cymes, several to a terminal panicle. Leaves similar to those of Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla).


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Stems purple.


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
The five flower petals either curl up or possess a twist completely uncovering the five white/lilac-coloured stamens with indigo-coloured anthers protrude as one, surrounding a single slightly-longer central stigma. Flower stalks purple with short appressed white hairs.


8th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
The flower petals are a pure blue similar in colour to those of Borage (Borago officinalis), but they are ribbon-land hardly taper.


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Un-opened flower buds taper to a rounded end and are whitish at the broad end progressing through mauve to a deep purple or indigo colour at the tip.


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Spent flowers still have the single long lilac-coloured stamen protruding from an angular sepal cup with long white hairs. In this regard the single protruding stigma is similar to those of Common Comfrey (Symphiticum officinale).


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Leaves broad lanceolate and upwardly pointing. It flowers before the leaves have grown to their full size.


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Leaves have a slight curl, either inwards radially, or outwards longitudinally.


20th March 2014, Nymans Garden, South Park Lodge, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex Photo: © Jan McKinnell
Large leaves with deep net-veins and un-straight edges. Leaf stalks have short hairs.


Easily mistaken for : Russian Comfrey (Symphitum × uplandicum which also has purple to blue flowers and a long protruding stigma, but lacks the five bunched stamens (similar to those of Borage (Borago officinalis). However, when the flowers are open, the petals unlike Borage are curled and almost linear. It is also known as Oriental Borage.

Some similarities to : Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) which also has five long bunched protruding stamens (but they are yellow rather than lilac) and five purple petals (but they are tapered rather than linear). Some other plants of the Nightshade Family (Solanaceae) also have bunched stamens, such as Duke-of-Argyll's Teaplant (Lycium barbarum) and Potato (Solanum tuberosum).

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

This is an alien ornamental garden plant that has been introduced and then naturalised into the surrounding countryside in scattered locations in the UK with a slight predisposition for the South especially around the Home Counties. It was first introduced to the UK in 1868 and is a perennial that grows and spreads vigorously in damp woodland and shady banks to cover the ground at the exclusion of most other plants. It alone occupies the Trachystemon genus (in the UK).

It grows natively in Bulgaria, Georgia and in Turkey where it is eaten as a vegetable after cooking in boiling water, both rhizome, stems, leaves and flowers. It blooms early in spring. There may be small quantities of poisonous pyrrolizidine alkaloids present, like there are in most plants belonging to the Borage Family. If the striking blue colour of the petals is due to the same dye (Thesinine) in the related Borage, then the dye, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid, is non-toxic in this case, but that does not mean there are not other toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids present.

Trachystemon is derived from the Greek: Trachys meaning rough and stemon referring to the prominent stamens.


  Trachystemon orientalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Boraginaceae  

Distribution
 family8Borage family8Boraginaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Trachystemon
Trachystemon
(Abraham-Isaac-Jacob)

ABRAHAM-ISAAC-JACOB

ORIENTAL BORAGE

Trachystemon orientalis

Borage Family [Boraginaceae]