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 simple, mostly entire, and alternate; stipules are lacking. The flowers are nearly always bisexual and actinomorphic. 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, a single, often gynobasic style, and a superior, often deeply 4-lobed ovary with 4 locules, each containing a single basal-axile ovule. An annular nectary disk is sometimes present. The fruit 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.
Cryptantha circumscissa, matted or cushion cryptantha, NW NV - NE CA, May 26, 2005.
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.
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.
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.
Plagiobothrys sp., popcorn flower, Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR, 2002.
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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