Borage, Borago Officinalis

An annual herb that is hardy to 10 degrees F and grows to 4 feet tall. Plan in Spring with full sun and fast draining soils, moderately watering. The large, purple velvet flowers are displayed on a showy, hirsute plant with undulating foliage. Known as the Herb of Gladness for its exhilarating effect. Parts used: the leaves and flowers consist of potassium, calcium, mineral acids along with nitrogen salts.

Borage originated in Syria, but is naturalised throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as Asia Minor, Europe, North Africa, and South America. The flowers are usually a vivid sky blue, although an occasional pink bloom does appear, there is also a rare species with white flowers.

The origin of the name is unclear, but the Celts referred to it as borrach, meaning ‘courage’. Others, however, believe that its name is derived from the French word borrache, which means ‘hairy’ or ‘rough’, and which could be a reference to its bristly stems and leaves. Borage was called the “herb of gladness” by the Welsh.

When Linnaeus invented the binomial system of nomenclature, he gave the specific name ‘officinalis’ to plants (and sometimes animals) with an established medicinal, culinary, or other use. The word officinalis is derived from the Latin officina meaning a storeroom (of a monastery) for medicines and necessaries. It literally means ‘of or belonging in an officina’, and that it was officially recognised as a medicinal herb. It conjures up images of a storeroom where apothecaries and herbalists stored their herbs.
Borage is commonly known as – Burrage, Burage, Bugloss, Bourrache, Bee Plant, Cool Tankard, Langue de Boeuf, Ox-tongue or Tailwort.

The oil expressed from the seeds is often called ‘starflower oil’.

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