AskDefine | Define borage

Dictionary Definition



1 hairy blue-flowered European annual herb long used in herbal medicine and eaten raw as salad greens or cooked like spinach [syn: tailwort, Borago officinalis]
2 leaves flavor sauces and punches; young leaves eaten in salads or cooked

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. (herb) a Mediterranean plant with oval leaves, used in salads.

Scientific names



Extensive Definition

Borage (Borago officinalis L.), also known as "starflower" (گل گاوزبان in Persian) is an annual herb originating in Syria, but naturalized throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as most of Europe, North Africa, and Iran. It grows to a height of 60-100 cm (2-3 feet), and is bristly-hairy all over the stems and leaves; the leaves are alternate, simple, and 5-15 cm (2-6 in) long. The flowers are small, blue or pink, with five narrow, triangular-pointed petals. It has an indeterminate growth habit allowing it to produce many seeds which may lead to it spreading prolifically beyond where it is first sown or planted. In milder climates, borage will bloom continuously for most of the year.
The leaves have been found to contain small amounts (10 ppm of dried herb) of the liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids: intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline and supinine. They taste like fresh cucumber and are used in salads and soups especially in Germany. One of the better known recipes with borage is the Green Sauce made in Frankfurt. Frankfurter Grüne Sauce, as it is called in Germany, is made from seven herbs: parsley, chervil, chives, cress, sorrel, burnet and borage. Borage is also an ingredient in the traditional recipe for a Pimm's Cup. In the Spanish regions of Aragón and Navarra, it's also commonly eaten. One of the simplest recipes uses winter grown borage (because these have grown slowly and taste better) and before flowers appear (although not mandatory) usually cooking it in boiling water with a pair of potatoes. Once plated, the vegetables are seasoned with a little olive oil and salt, before being enjoyed.
The flower, which contains the non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid thesinine, has a sweet honey-like taste and is often used to decorate desserts and dishes.
Tea made from the dried flowers is a traditional calming drink in Iran. It has a rich purple color that turns bright pink by adding a few drops of lemon juice.
Interest in borage remains high because it is the highest known plant based source of gamma-linolenic acid (18:3, cis 6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid). The seed oil is often marketed as "starflower oil" or "borage oil."
Borage is also rich in oleic and palmitic acid, conferring a hypocholesterolemic effect. This oil, which has recently been commercialised, may regulate metabolism and the hormonal system, and is considered by many naturopathic practitioners to be a good remedy for PMS and menopause symptoms such as the hot flash. Borage is also sometimes indicated to alleviate and heal colds, bronchitis, and respiratory infections in general for its anti-inflammatory and balsamic properties. The flowers can be prepared in infusion to take advantage of its medicinal properties.

As a companion plant

Borage is not only a pretty, flowering, edible herb, but it also improves the flavor of tomato vines when grown within a few feet of them.
borage in Belarusian: Агурочнік
borage in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Агурочнік
borage in Bulgarian: Пореч
borage in Catalan: Borratja
borage in Czech: Brutnák lékařský
borage in German: Borretsch
borage in Spanish: Borago officinalis
borage in Esperanto: Borago
borage in Persian: گل گاوزبان
borage in French: Bourrache officinale
borage in Galician: Borraxe
borage in Italian: Borago officinalis
borage in Lithuanian: Vaistinė agurklė
borage in Hungarian: Borágó
borage in Dutch: Bernagie
borage in Polish: Ogórecznik lekarski
borage in Portuguese: Borragem
borage in Romanian: Limba mielului
borage in Sicilian: Borrago officinalis
borage in Slovak: Borák lekársky
borage in Slovenian: Boraga
borage in Finnish: Rohtopurasruoho
borage in Swedish: Gurkört
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