It is a herbaceous annual plant spread in a spontaneous condition in all of Europe, it grows in fields and in uncultivated terrain for about 1600mts, but is also cultivated because it is edible cooked or uncooked. In Ligurian cooking it is widely used, cooked, for the famous stuffing mixed with spinach and chard or also by itself, uncooked, in spring salads.
The flowers are a blue colour and are sometimes used, even today, to give flavour to vinegar and this also gives it a characteristic blue colour.
Borage is also a plant with many meanings.
Ancient civilisations often used this plant for its sudoriferous properties: in cases of colds, bronchitis and rheumatism, it was administered to quickly lower a temperature. Its name, according to many writers, derives from Arabic “abu rach”, that means “father of sweat”. Others instead are of the opinion that its name was attributed because of the fact that it is covered with a long smooth “hair”: this comes from the Latin “tardo borus”, a long cloak worn by shepherds, made from the wool of smooth sheep. Also this hypothesis is plausible, as the leaves of borage are prickly so that to be eaten raw they must first be chopped.
Other than being a sudorifero, borage earned a little fame with the Greeks and Romans as a nervous tonic, and was often advised to cure a depressed state. This plant is also associated with the idea of strength and audacity by the Greeks. The Romans placed it under the sign of Jove, and the astrologists under the sign of the Lion. In medieval times the same symbolism was maintained, and continued to state that this plant was able to procure greatness of spirit and resolution. In the Arab world instead, where borage is more widely used, it is believed to be effective in stimulating the secretion of milk.