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Borage (Borago officinalis or Echium amoenum), 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 produces plenty of seeds and thus continues to grow and spread prolifically from 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 a common dish, one of the simplest recipes uses winter bourages (because these have grown slowly and taste better), bourages are cooked before flowers appear (but it's not mandatory as flowers can be put with the rest of the bourage into the boiling water too) and are usually boiled with a pair of potatoes. Once it's on the dish, the potatoes and borage are seasoned with a little olive oil and salt.
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. If frozen into ice-cubes, the flowers become exotic drink coolers.
Tea made from the flowers is a traditional calming drink in Iran. It has a rich purple color that amazingly turns into a bright pink by adding a few drops of lemon juice.
The oil that is extracted from the seeds (marketed as "starflower oil" or "borage oil") is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid.
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.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Borage". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|