Borage: language of borage flowers and plants



Borrago officinalis




Borage does not have a canonical meaning in the language of flowers but if we want to attribute it to it, it is certainly that of contentment and serenity.

These statements are dictated by the fact that over the centuries, this plant has been attributed a meaning of joy and strength and the numerous traditions that accompany it bear witness to this.

The ancient Celts used to drink wine with borage because they said it gave courage before battle.

Pliny even said that it was the famous "Nepente" that Homer mentions in Book IV of the Odyssey which, when mixed with wine, gave joy and oblivion:

«(...) In the dessert
Wine, of which bevean, drug infused
Contrary to weeping and anger, and that oblivion
Seco inducea of ​​all labor and care.
Chïunque mixed with the vermilion mood
In the bosom he received it, all that day
Tears do not flow from his face,
Not, if the mother or the lost parent,
Not, when viewed with eyes straight ahead
Had a son or brother killed by the sword.
Cotai the daughter of Olympian Jupiter
Famous drugs possessed, which as a gift
He got from Polydamna, from his wife
Di Tone in Egypt, where mighty
Different juices the fertile earth
It produces, some wholesome and some deadly;
And where, more than the medicants elsewhere,
Everyone knows of healing the divine art,
As people descended from Peòn.
The nepenthe already infused, and imposed on the servants
Pour the wine from the urn into cups (...) "

Sir Francis Bacon wrote that it was a remedy to "combat the sooty vapors of dusty melancholy." Even the school of Salerno held it in high regard for its relaxing properties "generator of good blood".

In 1500 P. A. Mattioli (published Commentary of Dioscorides an extensive treatise on botany) recommended it for heart failure and soothing in cases of fever.

In the late 1600s, John Evelyn wrote in his Elysium britannicum that borage is a plant with unknown virtues to revive the hypochondriac and to restore courage.

Giuseppe Donzelli, a Neapolitan doctor wrote in his Pharmaceutical theateror in 1667 that borage water «is appropriate for the heart because it cheers and corroborates it. It removes bad imaginations, sharpens memory and mind, and drives away all bad moods from the body. It is useful for melancholy and frenetic people ».

And many authors and testimonies could still be cited ... one thing is certain: borage (or borage as many call it) is a plant with surprising virtues and qualities.

Nature in mind calliopea

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A blue flower in the vegetable garden and in the garden

I like the borage flower, a starry flower, which gives me a good mood at the very thought of being able to see it in the garden and in the Jordan. There borage or borago officinalis, is a pleasant plant to grow that I found wild in Liguria, with which I prepare excellent ravioli in the kitchen.

borrago or

Description, origin, habitat

Borage is an annual or biennial spontaneous plant of the borraginaceae family.
It presents drums hollow, cylindrical, fleshy and hairy like the leaves which are slightly oval, pointed, alternating and slightly pungent.
The plant is covered with stiff gray hairs and can reach 60 cm. in height.
The flowers they are a beautiful deep blue in the shape of an almost star and are slightly bent downwards.
They are gathered in racemes and flowering occurs from February to November.
The roots they are taproot and are black externally and white internally.
The seeds have an appendage rich in nutrients loved by ants that help spread it by taking them away from the mother plant.
It is probably native to Spain where it was cultivated by the Arabs and then spread throughout the Mediterranean.
This spontaneous plant grows throughout Italy and Europe, from 0 to 800 m above sea level, in cultivated places such as vegetable gardens and as a weed in ruins and along walls.
The plant is an excellent honey and is considered the bread of bees.

borrago officinalis

How to grow borrago officinalis and borrago alba

Borage it can be sown in spring from late March to early April on a waning moon and the plants will grow large in two months. At the end of summer the plant will go to seed and it will be possible to sow again.
You can also transplant the borage that you find spontaneous, but only the smaller plants, due to the tap root that does not like transplants very much, so it is better to sow it.
There is also a variety of white-flowered borage: Borrago officinalis alba which has the same uses and properties as officinalis.
The plant loves any soil being very rustic and a sunny position.
Give the plant space and do not sow it too close to other plants.
In the vegetable garden it is excellent in association with strawberries, climbing beans and tomatoes to ward off aphids and parasites. If you don't have a vegetable garden or a lawn, grow it in a large pot with poppies. It will be very beautiful to see.



Its name seems to come from the Arabic term “abu rach” meaning “father of sweat” in allusion to the sweat properties of the leaves. Another version of its name is that the name derives from the Latin word "wad" which is a popular term for a rough cloth like the leaves of the plant.

borrago officinalis

In the language of flowers

In the language of flowers, the plant can be associated with a rough, somewhat gruff character of a person who still stands out, due to the beauty of the flowers that contrast with the dryness of the leaves.

borage flowers

Properties and symbology

It has properties sweat, purifying, diuretic, refreshing, emollient and sedative.
Another etymology of the plant which is also its symbolism is that the name derives from the Celtic "borrach" meaning courage, because it seems that the plant was considered talisman to instill serenity and courage.

Herbal uses and more

The flowers and leaves can be used dried or fresh.

If you want to dry the leaves for infusions, it is best to dry them before flowering, placing the stems upside down, in the shade, in a ventilated place.
The infusions of borage are anti-inflammatory, especially for the urinary tract (diuretic) and for respiratory diseases (expectorant).
The infusion, for external use, it serves in inflammations of the mouth and as emollient also useful in the form of rinses.
The infusion also serves in case of accumulation of toxins by boiling in half a liter of water and adding 20 grams of borage, 20 of dandelion, 20 grams of wild chicory and drinking it in small glasses during the day.
In herbal tea the leaves and flowers have a mild sedative effect.
The decoction, for internal use, it is used in case of fever and bronchial pains
Borage is used to stimulate milk secretion in women who have given birth, hence the name nurses' grass.


Cold-pressed borage seed oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic and gamma linoleic acids.
It raises the levels of good cholesterol and relieves the symptoms of premenstrual and menstrual pain.
For external use it is useful for moisturizing and nourishing the skin and prevents dermatitis such as atopic one and eczema.

Beauty stratagems for dry skin

Borage leaves can also be added to the bath water for her emollient qualities or you can create a face pack or mask by boiling and chopping them.


What does the plant contain

The plant contains mucilage (in flowers), potassium and magnesium nitrate, tannin and phosphoric acid (in the green parts), picto-lizidine alkaloids (in the leaves), then carbohydrates, proteins, omega 6, mineral salts and vitamins A C and PP.


In the kitchen

The culinary uses of the plant are known thanks to the Arabs.
In the kitchen leaves and flowers can be cooked, to avoid the problem of fluff, and consume in soups, savory pies, omelettes, fillings for pasta and also to make green pasta.
The leaves and the flowering racemes they are excellent battered or in tempura.
The smaller and more tender leaves are eaten raw and harvested in April-June, before flowering. Consume them seasoned with oil, dill and raw onion and feta, they are excellent!
Their taste is vaguely reminiscent of cucumber, like that of flowers which fresh can be used to color salads or put on soft cheeses or in ice cubes, but with modderation, due to the presence of saponins and pyrrolizzidines which decrease during cooking.
When we cook the leaves, place them in the pan with the washing water and a little oil without adding more water, since the juice of the plant will help to give them the right humidity.
Borage flowers can be candied or put in sweets and drinks.
In Liguria it is very popular as a vegetable in fact it is consumed in ravioli and many preparations.
N.B. The plant containing alkaloids must be consumed in moderation in order not to compromise liver functions. It is therefore not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.


A recipe: candied borage flowers

Prepare a syrup by placing 100 grams of sugar, two tablespoons of water and a few drops of lemon on the stove, then add two handfuls of borage flowers and wait 48 hours before extracting them and spread them out to dry.
Keep the flowers thus obtained in closed boxes and use them to garnish ice creams and creams.

A recipe book with wild flowers and herbs

If you like the cook with wild flowers and herbs buy mine book and ebook titled: I love flowers and experiment with my recipes. You will also find plant cards, scientific research on the antioxidant powers of wild herbs and flowers and many other curiosities. (The recipes can also be made without flowers and herbs using vegetables from the garden, so you can write to me for replacements).
You can buy the book on the website or on other online stores such as amazon, lafeltrinelli and mondadori etc ..

A dyeing plant and a blue vinegar

Borage flowers release a green dye formerly sought after by dyers that we can now obtain by placing them in vinegar of white wine to make it become light blue.

borrago officinalis

A plant whose flowers are good for the mood

Dried borage flowers can be used indoors in potpourri, while fresh they can be used in beautiful summer bouquets.



  • Flowers of Liguria G. Nicolini A. Moreschi, Siag Genoa Editions, 1970
  • The herbarium of Jekka Mc Vicar Logos 2009
  • Recognizing the spontaneous flowers of Italy and Europe, Margot and Roland Sphon Ricca Editore, 2013
  • Edible wild herbs, Riccardo Luciano and Carlo Gatti, arabafenice editions, 2014
  • Permitted herbs, forbidden herbs, Ida Salusso, Verde books publisher, 2014
  • Encyclopedia of herbs, recognition, medicinal use, cosmetic aromatic, Edizioni del Baldo 2012

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Borage is a plant belonging to the Boraginaceae family. In Northern Europe it also takes names that refer to the taste of the leaves, reminiscent of cucumber. It is an annual plant native to the Mediterranean area, where it grows spontaneously and spread to central Europe in the late Middle Ages. It is a very popular plant, very common in traditional peasant gardens. The borage plant can reach a height of 80 cm, the stems are hollow but very robust, and covered with hair exactly like the leaves. Star-shaped flowers develop on the tops of the stems. The blue buds, which bloom almost all summer, are very popular with bees. ATTENTION!! Be careful when harvesting borage - it can slightly irritate the skin. The oil is indicated for the treatment of neurodermatitis, while caution is recommended with regard to the consumption of the fresh plant due to the carcinogenic substances it contains and which can damage the liver, the so-called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. For this reason, borage is not approved as a drug even if its curative effects have been proven in medicine.




  • borage is sown directly in the garden from April to June. To develop it needs darkness, so it is necessary to cover the seeds with earth. The plant spreads very quickly, so you will have to subsequently remove the plants that are too close to each other. Borage is a plant that does not need a lot of care, and has no particular needs. It has particularly beneficial effects on the soil and is excellent for the agricultural practice of green manuring (burying of special crops in order to maintain or increase the fertility of the soil).

Borage is a real ace in the hole when it comes to adding that extra touch to herbal dishes. The leaves contain many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium. Juicy young leaves are the most aromatic. The leaves have a slightly refreshing scent and taste, reminiscent of cucumber, and are slightly astringent. The fresh plant is ideal in salads, egg-based dishes, sauces, soups, flans and to give an extra touch to fish-based dishes. Fried in batter it becomes a very tasty snack.

Borage has mucolytic, blood purifying, detoxifying, sweat and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to treat coughs, rheumatism, skin and childhood diseases. Since the plant contains toxic substances, it must be taken in moderation and possibly only for external use. Borage flowers can be used in the form of herbal tea. Along with other remedies, it is often used in bladder inflammation. In the foreground among the fields of application we find detoxifying treatments in case of spring fatigue. Borage has a calming effect, particularly on the nerves. Borage oil is now obtained from the whole plant, used mainly for cosmetic purposes and which, thanks to the high content of linoleic acid, is also used for skin diseases.

How to clean borage

Of course, after discovering that it is edible, I wondered how to clean it before cooking it. The operation is not particularly difficult. The important thing is peel off the leaves from the stem, particularly if this is large, because it could be harder. To wash it thoroughly, simply put it in a bowl with water and, after a first rinse, leave it to soak adding a spoonful of baking soda. As I have already suggested to you for agretti, in fact, it facilitates cleaning, making sure that the soil settles on the bottom of the bowl. At this point, it will be sufficient to perform a couple of rinses to have your herb clean and ready for cooking. So let's see how to cook borage.

How to use borage as a fertilizer

If you just want to have some of the plants around you for their beauty, use them as tea or for the decorative bee that attracts flowers, plants are always useful even in small numbers. These annuals can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet with many stems and branching secondary leaves.

Peel the leaves and put them in enough water to cover them. Put a lid on the container and let it brew for two weeks. After two weeks, drain the solids and you will have an excellent fertilizer.

Use weekly borage as a fertilizer, diluted with 1 part of water in 10 parts of water. The solution can be stored for several months. And don't forget to grow your own borage annual plants, no matter how many. Even a small number of plants is an excellent soil improver, the equivalent of the beauty and brains of plants.

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