Trachystemon orientalis
Common Name: Early-flowering borage 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Native Range: Southern Europe, southwestern Asia
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Bluish-purple with white throat
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion


Easily grown in moist, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Tolerates drought including moderate amounts of dry shade in cool summer conditions. Also tolerates full sun, but usually performs best in sun-dappled part shade. Generally tolerant of a wide range of soils. Propagate by root cuttings and division. Will naturalize in the garden by spreading rhizomes. Winter hardy to USDA Zones 6-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Trachystemon orientalis, commonly known as early-flowering borage, is a tough, rhizomatous, shade-loving, weed-smothering, perennial ground cover that is native from Bulgaria to the Caucasus and Turkey. Pendant, borage-like, white-throated, bluish-purple flowers (each to 1/2” wide) bloom in early spring (March-April) in loose-branched panicles (scorpioid cymes) located atop branched, hairy, pink-tinted flowering stems rising to 18” tall. Flowers bloom at a time when the foliage is just beginning to develop. Flowers have tubular corollas with five spreading to slightly reflexed petals. Large, coarsely-textured, long-petioled, heart-shaped, bristly-hairy, overlapping, medium to dark green basal leaves (each to 12” long) typically mature to full size after flowering has finished to form a dense but attractive foliage mat rising to 18” tall but spreading over time to 24” wide or more.

Genus name comes from the Greek words trachys meaning rough and stemon meaning stamen in reference to the hairy filaments found on species flowers.

Specific epithet is in reference to the Orient in reference to the distribution of this species.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Ornamental ground cover featuring early blue flowers and dense heart-shaped leaves. Naturalize in partly shaded landscape areas. Woodland margins. Good selection for dry shade.