Thursday, March 15, 2018

Borage / Hjulkrone

Borago officinalis

Borago originates from Europe where it was cultivated by the Arabs in the south. It grows wild along roads and in fields.

Borago is in Denmark also known as agurkeurt = cucumberherb. The plant is 30-60 cm tall with elliptical leaves covered in rough hair, the flowers are wheelshaped with a fine skye blue colour all summer untill october. The plant smells of cucumber when it is chopped. Borago is actually not a spice herb. Today there is a warning against eating the rough leaves since the plant is related to comfrey, Symphtym officinale, which is forbidden to use for food. 

The borago keeps its germination for up till three years, and it is best to saw it in May. Make small grooves in the garden bed with 25 cm's distance between the rows and 7 cm between each seed and cover the seeds  The seeds have to be covered with soil since they need darkness . The plant throws many seeds, so it will germinate in many places the next year, especially since it is spread by ants.

The plant thrives well in all kinds of soil, but mostly in a nutrient rich and moist soil. If it grows in a sunny place it will flower long -  if the surroundings are too dry, the leaves will collapse and have to be watered. A poor soil must be given compost before seedling.

Borago can be plant in pots in window boxes or plant together with dill, fennel ananas-sage etc in jars on the terasse. It is loved by the bees and it has a rich flowering all summer. Borago is an annual self-seeding summer flower Only the flowers and seeds of borago is recommended in cooking.

Food: Vegetable use of borage is common in Germany, in the Spanish regions of Aragon and Navarre, in the Greek island of Crete and in the northern Italian region of Liguria. Although often used in soups, one of the better known German borage recipes is the Green sauce (Grüne Soße) made in Frankfurt. In Italian Liguria, borage is commonly used as a filling of the traditional pasta ravioli and pansoti. It is used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland.



Borage is traditionally used as a garnish in the Pimms Cup cocktail, but is nowadays often replaced by a long sliver of cucumber peel or by mint. It is also one of the key "Botanical" flavourings in Gilpin's Westmorland Extra Dry Gin.  

History: Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides say  that borage was the "Nepenthe" mentioned in Homer, which caused forgetfulness when mixed with wine. Francis Bacon thought that borage had "an excellent spirit to repress the fuliginous vapour of dusky melancholie." John Gerard's Herball mentions an old verse concerning the plant: "Ego Borago, Gaudia semper ago (I, Borage, bring always courage)". He states that "Those of our time do use the flowers in sallads to exhilerate and make the mind glad. There be also many things made of these used everywhere for the comfort of the heart, for the driving away of sorrow and increasing the joy of the minde. The leaves and floures of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirme. Syrup made of the floures of Borage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy and quieteth the phrenticke and lunaticke person. The leaves eaten raw ingender good bloud, especially in those that have been lately sicke."

Companion planting: Borage is used in companion planting. It is said to protect or nurse legumes, spinach , brassicas and even strawberries. It is also said to be a good companion plant to tomatoes because it confuses the mother moths of tomato hornworms or manduca looking for a place to lay their eggs. Claims that it improves tomato growth and makes them taste better remain unsubstantiated.

 Folk Medicine: Harpestræng 1300s: to drink together with wine makes the heart happy; a decoct with honey for diseases in lungs, heart and throat.  Christiern Pedersen 1533: against heartache and pain, eat leaves in salad; the flowes with wine; plant juice to mix with decoct of leaves and flowers in honey against jaundice  Henrik Smid 1546: a kale dish of the plant  and spinach is healthy for sick and fragile people; destilled water from flowers help against malaria; the ashes of the burnt herb mixed with honey for  mouth rinsing; the flowers pickled with sugar strengthens the heart. 

The herb was written into the pharmacopoeia in 1772


source: Brøndegaard Folk og Flora , Anemette Olesen Krydderurter i haven; Wikipedia: Borago officinalis

photos from wikipedia  


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