The Boraginaceae are herbs, shrubs or trees comprising about 100 genera and 2,000 species that have flowers in helicoid cymes and often have herbage that is coarsely hairy. The leaves are usually simple, but are sometimes deeply lobed or even compound, entire to serrate, alternate; stipules are lacking. The flowers are nearly always bisexual and actinomorphic, usually in helicoid or scorpioid cymes. The calyx consists of 5 distinct or connate sepals. The corolla is 5-merous, sympetalous, and often has small appendages in the throat. The androecium consists of 5 distinct stamens adnate to the corolla tube or perigynous zone and alternate with the corolla lobes. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 2 carpels; the ovary is superior.  In one configuration false ovary partitions result in 4 locules, each with a single basal-axile ovule;  the style is either terminal on an unlobed ovary or the ovary may be deeply lobed and the style gynobasic.  In a second configuration the ovary is either undivided or partially or completely divided by two intruded parietal placentae that usually bear numerous ovules; the style(s) one and somewhat lobed, 2 or 4, terminal on an unlobed ovary. An annular nectary disk is sometimes present. The fruit is capsular or consists of 4 1-seeded nutlets or a 1-4-seeded nut or drupe.

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.

Anchusa officinalis. Note the faucal appendages in the throat of the corolla that are common in the family.
Amsinkia sp., fiddleneck. The common name comes from the shape of the inflorescence. The rough hairs common in the family are evident. Note also the 5-merous flowers and stamens alternating with corolla lobes.
Borago officinale.  Note the deeply 4-lobed ovary and gynobasic style (second photo) common in many herbaceous species of the family.
Cordia sebestena, geiger tree. Tree from Florida to the W. Indies, often a street planting in Hawaii. The leaves have a sandpaper texture and the flowers are deep red-orange.
Cordia subcordata, kou. The wood of this tree is commonly used for making bowls and other knickknacks. The 6-merous perianth and androecium is exceptional in the family. Note the style tip with two major and two minor lobes. The tubular calyx is persistent and envelopes the fruits.
Cynoglossum amabile, hound's tongue.
Cynoglossum grande, western or Pacific hound's tongue, OR, Mar. 2004.
Cynoglossum officinale, hound's tongue. As flowering proceeds, the helicoid inflorescence straightens out. Only the tip of this inflorescence where the reddish flower may be seen is still coiled. Notice the style extending down between the ovary lobes. The ovary splits into 4 one-seeded nutlets.
Echium wildpretii.
Eriodictyon californicum, yerba santa with Euphydryas ?editha butterfly. (Previously Hydrophyllaceae).
Heliotropium amplexicaule.  The helicoid cyme and coarse hairs common in the family are very obvious in this example.
Heliotropium anomalum, hinahina. This silvery Hawaiian native nicely illustrates the helicoid cymes typical of the family.
Heliotropium curassavicum, kipukai. This native Hawaiian seaside heliotrope is unusual because of its lack of hairs.
Hydrophyllum capitatum, Mt. Spokane, WA, 2002. (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)
Lithospermum ruderale, wayside gromwell, vic. Cheney, WA, 1,2 - 2002. Two mature nutlets can be seen in the fruiting calyx. It is common for 1 or more of the nutlets to abort. Note the coarse hairs on the sepals.
Mertensia paniculata, tall bluebells, 1, 3, 4 - Mt. Spokane, WA, 2002.
Myosotis sp., forget-me-not.
Nama demissum, purple mat.  (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)

Nama sandwicensis, hinahina kahakai. Hawaiian endemic.  (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)

Nemophila menziesii, baby blue eyes.  1 - cultivated, 2 - Bear Valley, CA, 3 - flower show, Glide, OR, April, 2004.  (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)
Nemophila menziesii var. atomaria, pale baby blue eyes, OR, 2003.  (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)
Phacelia sp.  (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)
Phacelia tanacetifolia.  (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)

Pholisma arenaria. Members of this genus lack chlorophyll and are parasites that attach to the roots of nearby host plants.
Plagiobothrys sp., popcorn flower, Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR, 2002.
Romanzoffia californica, California mistmaiden, 1 - vic. Umpqua, OR, April, 2004, 2 - vic. Alsea Falls, OR, April, 2004. (Previously Hydrophyllaceae)
Symphytum officinale, comfrey.  Note the gynobasic style in the 4th photo.
Tournefortia argentea, tree heliotrope. The tropical, woody borages such as this one usually have an unlobed ovary and a terminal style. Note the helicoid cymose inflorescence.

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