What we grow - Biodiversity
HISTORY AND ETYMOLOGY
Borage (Borago officinalis L.) is an annual herbaceous plant of the Boraginaceae family. The name derives from the Latin “borra” (Rough wool fabric), for the fluff that covers the leaves, but probably also derives from the Arabic “abu araq” (Father of sweat), through the medieval Latin “borrago”, perhaps for the sweat properties of the plant
It is an annual herbaceous plant, which can reach a height of 60 centimeters. It has elliptical, petiolate oval leaves with a rough fluff, green-dark, collected in a basal rosette, 10-15 centimeters long, smaller on the stem. The short-lived flowers have five petals, arranged in a star, blue-violet color, in the center the anthers deriving from the union of the 5 stamens are visible. They are collected in top, pendulous inflorescences in full bloom; they have long pedicels. The fruits are achenes which contain various small seeds inside; the seeds are endowed with elaiosomes, particular appendages containing nutritious substances palatable to the ants, which facilitate their dissemination.
USES AND PROPERTIES
The young leaves are variously used in cooking. Traditionally, the leaves are used cooked in many regional dishes: soups, cakes and omelettes, or as fillings for ravioli. Typical is the consumption in fritters of the flowers and leaves (In batter and then fried). Cooking eliminates the fluff that covers the leaves. In moderate quantities the young leaves and occasionally also the flowers are used raw in salads. The blue flowers are used to color and garnish dishes and to color the vinegar; frozen in cubes can be a decoration for summer drinks. It is used to lower fever and calm dry cough. It is also known as a diuretic and emollient (Due to the presence of mucilage). The oil, with strong anti-inflammatory properties and a high content of linolenic acid, is obtained from the seeds mainly by cold pressing. It is employed in the treatment of eczema and other affections. The flowers, with a high quantity of nectar, are highly sought after by bees, therefore it is a melliferous plant; you can also get an excellent mono-floral honey, but borage is not very common and production is limited. Furthermore, the borage is attributed diuretic, purifying and detoxifying properties and is also used as a cardiotonic remedy and against menopausal disorders, phlebitis, fever and pain.
The borage is a weed plant, it is not very demanding in terms of care, soil and climate and can adapt easily. It loves slightly humid soils, in the vegetable garden it is best to planting in well-sunny flower beds. In Italy it is grown as an annual plant, to be sown in spring. Borage leaves can be harvested at the time of use. If done in moderation, without undressing the plant too much, the borage will be able to make the flowers and later the seeds, so we can continue to cultivate it even the following years, especially taking the basal leaves. To prolong the production of leaves it is better to remove the flowers without letting them go to seed.