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Borage – Borago officinalis – il-Fidloqqom

Borage – Borago officinalis – il-Fidloqqom

The Borage is a very common annual herb native to the Maltese Islands and the wider Mediterranean region. It grows to a general height of 60 – 100 cm. long and contains several bristles and hairs along the stem and leaves. Alternate and simple, the leaves are 5 – 15 cm. long and 3 – 8 cm. wide.

The star-shaped flowers are formed from five narrow petals with triangular points, most often coloured blue. However, genetic varieties of pink and white flowers can also be observed to a lesser extent. Borage forms large floral displays having several points blooming simultaneously.

It can be found growing as a border plant across cultivated fields, along agricultural paths and roads and in disturbed areas. Borage has been cultivated traditionally since ancient times for culinary and medicinal uses.

Today, however, commercial cultivation is mainly focused on oil seed production as it is the richest plant source containing gamma-linolenic acid and other fatty acids. It is also used for the biologically active components present within the plant in the production of dietary supplements.

As a medicinal plant, borage is used to regulate metabolism and the larger hormonal system, and is also considered as a good remedy for PMS and menopause symptoms. On occasions, borage is also known to have alleviated and healed colds and other respiratory infections due to its anti-inflammatory and balsamic properties. The flowers are generally prepared in infusions to take advantage of the medicinal properties of Borage.

In beekeeping Borage has been described as a nectariferous plant, attracting pollinators with the pollen and nectar it provides and is a very important annual plant species in the beekeeping industry. It attracts a wide variety of pollinators including ants, flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies and dragonflies, however, it is mainly foraged by honey bees and bumblebees.

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