Scientific Name: Borago officinales
Borage is a robust annual with hollow stems and large hairy leaves. Borage is a decorative plant. It bears attractive clusters of blue star-shaped flowers with black stamens. It is extremely popular with bees.
Borage originated in southern Spain and spread from there to Morocco and the Mediterranean.
Although Borage prefers a sunny position and well-drained soil, it will grow well in most soils including clay. It needs space in the garden as it can grow up to 60 cm in height and in width. It makes a wonderful backdrop plant in a garden bed.
Borage grows easily from seed and self-seeds profusely. Once established, it will appear year after year. If you want to transplant Borage seedlings, do this as soon as they are large enough to handle - when it has 4 small leaves, as it has a long taproot and does not like to be disturbed.
The parts that are used: The young leaves and edible flowers are used, fresh.
Today Borage is cultivated worldwide as a culinary herb. Young Borage leaves have the flavour of cucumber. Shred it into salad — once chopped, the hairiness disappears. The older leaves can be cooked like spinach. It will improve the taste of cabbage — cook together 1 part Borage and 2 parts cabbage. Add Borage to soups, stews, yoghurt, cream cheese and use the flowers in stir-fry's and fritters. Infuse Borage in hot water and prepare a refreshing drink by adding lemon or honey. Float the pretty blue flowers in cold drinks, and use the flowers in salads and to decorate desserts and fruit salads.
Recipe to decorate and flavour summer drinks with Borage ice cubes:
Pick fresh flowers when they are fully open. Use boiled water that has been left to cool (to keep the ice cubes clear). Fill the ice tray half way with the cooled water and freeze slightly. Using a tweezer, place a single flower in each section. Cover with water. Leave to set in the freezer for 12 hours. Add these Borage flower ice cubes to a drink just before serving.
In ancient times Borage was given to young Roman soldiers for courage and comfort and to raise their spirits ; regarded as having a stimulating effect on the mind and body.
Today we know that Borage juice is calming and stress relieving. Pulp fresh leaves and drink 10 ml. of the juice, 3 times a day for depression, grief or anxiety. As Borage leaves and flowers are rich in potassium and calcium, it is a good blood purifier and tonic. It is anti-rheumatic as well as an adrenal stimulant as it acts as a tonic on the adrenal glands.
Prepare an infusion of Borage leaves and flowers to treat feverish colds and flu and the early stages of lung disorders. It will soothe respiratory ailments, chronic coughs, dry rasping coughs, tight chest and whooping cough. Borage reduces high temperatures by inducing sweat. Lactating mothers may combine Borage with fennel to stimulate milk flow.
Borage leaves and flowers can be prepared as a poultice to treat eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, rashes and itches. And applied to bruises, it will reduce swelling and inner bleeding.
I would like to recommend the following simple recipe for a poultice as written by Margie Frayne in her book "Help yourself to Health: a Guide for home health using healing herbs and good nutrition" 2005.
- Chop up or mash a handful of herbs — fresh or dry.
- The leaf, flower, powdered root, bulb or seed part of the herb can be used.
- Add a little boiling water if necessary to make the paste and mix well till quite soft.
(You can use a pestle or mortar, liquidizer, grinding stone.)
- Spread between two thin layers of gauze or thin cloth.
- Put this in a small plastic bag, put this in a bowl.
- Pour over some boiling hot water to heat up the herb paste.
- After a few minutes, when hot enough, carefully lift out of the water and remove poultice from the plastic bag. Place this hot poultice over the infected area or wound very carefully, as hot as possible, without burning the patient's skin
(Test the heat of the poultice against your inner arm to see that it doesn't burn before putting on the patient.)
- Tie on with a bandage and leave on for a several hours or overnight.
- Repeat once or twice every day, and continue until the infection has healed
Prepare a Borage infusion and use it as a facial steam for a dry and sensitive skin.