Borago officinalis is a great medicinal plant that is commonly known as borage plant or borage herb or borage seed oil. Borage has a very rich history. Borage is used in a versatile manner for medicinal, culinary and ornamental purposes. Find the details about this botanical.
History Of Borage:
In the early part of nineteenth century, the young leaves were considered good in salads and young borage top were boiled as a pot herb.
The fresh herb is considered as a coolant that renders coolness when steeped in water. Refreshing and restorative summer drinks were made with it after mixing it with lemon, water, wine and sugar.
History Of Names Of Borage:
Some old herbalists call it Buglosss while Bugloss is related with Anchusa officinalis, the alkanet.
Others consider that the Latin name Borago is taken from ‘Corago’. ‘Cor’ stands for heart and ‘Ago’ means for ‘I bring’. Therefore Borago means ‘one that brings cordial or pleasant effect‘.
This plant is spelled with double ‘r’ in native countries near the mediterranean and consider that it is derived from Italian ‘Borra’ and French ‘Bourra’. These words signify hair or flock of wool. Perhaps this is to indicate the thick covering of hair on the plant.
Henslow suggested that this word had been derived from ‘Barrach’. Barrach signifies a man of courage.
According to Gerald, Pliny (The Roman historian), Dioscorides and several famous old authorities, borage was used to exhilarate and make the mind glad, comfort the heart, drive away the sorrow and increase the happiness. OK, you see that I am also turning a bit poetic!
John Evelyn of the seventeenth century remarked that sprigs of borage had been used to revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hard working student.
Parkinson and Bacon found it to expel pensiveness and melancholy. Culpeper described it to be useful in putrid and pestilential fever, snake bites, jaundice, rheumatism, sore throat and consumption.
Names in European languages are related to Borage – French Bourrache, German Borretsch, Croatian Borac, Basque Borrai, Hungarian Borragofu, Greek Borantsa, and Bulgarian Porech.
The cucumber flavor of borage has given rise to names in various languages like – Russian Ogurechanaya trava, Belarusian Agurochnik, Dutch Komkommerkruid, Finnish Kurkkuyrtti, German Gurkenkraut, and Swedish Gurkort. All these names indicate toward one meaning i.e. cucumber herb.
Habitat Of Borage Herb:
Borago officinalis is a native of Northern Europe (Aleppo) and it is now naturalized in most part of Europe and in the temperate region of North America. It has been grown in Kitchen garden for its herbal and culinary properties and for honey from its flowers.
The Borage Plant:
The plant of Borago officinalis grows to the height of 1.5 – 3 feet and it spreads about twelve inches. This hardy annual herb has a messy and straggling habit. The whole plant is rough with white, stiff and prickly hair. The stem is rounded, branched, hollow and succulent.
Borage plant is thought to be insect repellent so it is often grown in vegetable gardens to protect other vegetables from insect damage.
The Leaves Of Borage Plant:
Leaves of Borago officinalis plant are dark green and their flavor resembles with cucumber. The leaves are three inches long, alternate, wrinkled, deep green, oval and pointed, with wavy margins. There are stiff one celled hair on the upper surface and on the veins below.
The Flowers Of Borage Herb:
The bright blue and star shaped flowers bloom in the summer and are the most attractive feature of Borago officinalis. Flowers have five narrow, triangular and pointed petals. Borage flowers are differentiated from other plants of this order by prominent black anthers that form a cone in the center and are the beauty spot of the flower.
Young flowers of borage can be pink and turn blue only in the course of their flowering period. Borage is a wildflower that is commonly called Starflower.
The Fruit Of Borage:
The fruit of Borago officinalis possesses four brownish nutlets.
Cultivation Of Borage Herb:
This borage plant grows well in sunny area and ordinary soil. And it needs protection from winds because it can easily be blown away. It can be grown by propagating the rootstocks in the spring and by putting cuttings of shoots in sandy soil during summer and autumn.
Seeds of Borago officinalis are sown throughout the season and plants are placed nearby to support each other. When left alone, borage will seed itself freely and grows up itself year after year.
Seeds sown in autumn will flower in May and seeds sown in spring will flower in June.
Collection Of Borage Herb:
Flowers of Borago officinalis are collected between April and September. Seeds are collected in autumn. Leaves are best when collected during the flowering period but they are harvested throughout the year.
Borage Plant Grows Well With:
Tomatoes, Strawberry and Squash are good neighbors of Borago officinalis and the overall flavor is remarkably lovely.
Culinary Uses Of Borago officinalis:
- Leaves of borage are cooked with cabbage and cauliflower.
- Chopped leaves of borage are added to soups after they are away from the oven. They add a great flavor.
- Cake decorations are done with candied flowers of borage by grandmothers.
- Salads and soups are garnished with young leaves and flowers of borage. Summer cocktails and other drinks are also garnished traditionally with leaves and flowers.
- Flowers of borage are dried to add color to potpourri.
- Boiling, frying and simmering would result in loss of borage fragrance quickly.
- In Germany, sauces prepared from herbs are very popular in summer. And we have many such sauces that are freshly prepared in summer and most of them contain herbs and vegetables.
- Green sauce is made in Frankfurt and its ancient formula contains seven herbs – parsley, chervil, chives, cress, sorrel, burnet and borage. Lemon balm is a popular extra herb.
- Similar sauces and pickles are prepared in other parts of world with Borago officinalis and other herbs.