The flowering plant Borago, also called cucumber grass or cucumber or borage, is a member of the family Borageaceae. This genus includes 5 species. Cultivated by gardeners only 1 species, called medicinal borage (Borago officinalis), which is an herbaceous annual. In nature it grows as a weed and is found in Asia Minor, Siberia and Europe. Since ancient times, mankind has known the cucumber grass as a plant that gives pollen stalks and also light honey.
The green of this plant was once used as a blue dye for wool fabrics. This crop was named cucumber grass because of its smell, which is very similar to the aroma of fresh cucumbers.
Properties of cucumber grass
The herbaceous plant Borago medicinalis is a stiff-haired annual that varies in height from 0.6 to 1 meter. The root is taprooted, ascending or straight ribbed thick stem is hollow inside and branching at the top.
The lower root and also stem leaves have rounded tops and are elliptical or oval in shape. The upper stem leaves are broadly linear, oblong-ovate and stem-shaped. The surface of the leaves and shoots has a coating of whitish staminate hairs. The whorls that form the shield-shaped inflorescences include dark blue-colored flowers, which have a dense coating of bristle-like hairs on the surface. The flowers have long pedicels.
The fruit is a wrinkled tubercle-shaped, oblong-ovoid nut, which reaches about 0.5 cm in length. Inside the nut there are seeds which can easily drop down to the ground after ripening. The seeds remain germinating for three years.
Cucumber grass or borage
Growing borage in the garden
Growing borage in your plot is very easy.
It is a fast growing plant, very winter hardy and self propagates very well, which is very important to take into account since once planted it is very difficult to get rid of. Even a novice gardener or vegetable grower can easily cope with planting and growing this plant on his plot.
Sow the seeds at the beginning of the spring period or under the winter. However, if you grow such a grass not for collecting medicinal raw materials, but for getting tender greenery, you may sow it during the whole summer period once in 14 days. Such grass grows perfectly on loose nutritious well-moistened soil, which should be neutral.
Before sowing the area should be prepared by removing all weeds, then recultivate, and organic fertilizers should be added to the soil (5 to 6 kilograms per 1 square meter). Seeds are buried in the soil at 10-20 mm, and the width of the row spacing should be 0,4 to 0,45 m. Once the seedlings have emerged, they should be thinned but the distance between the bushes should be 15 to 20 cm.
Cucumber grass care
Care for Borago grass is very simple; water it only during a long dry spell and if necessary remove weeds from the area as well as systematically loosen the soil between the rows. If this grass is cultivated as an ornamental plant, then for longer flowering it is necessary to cut off all faded stems and remove wilted flowers.
If borago grows on poor soil, it is recommended to add a liquid solution of universal mineral fertilizer. The duration of the growing season is 70-80 days.
Cucumber Grass/Borago/ Borage - from sowing to harvesting.
Gathering and storage of borage
The flowers, grass and seeds of borage grass have medicinal properties. The leaves are recommended to be harvested during the flowering period.
They should be cut into thin strips and left to dry in 1 layer on a piece of paper or cloth in a darkened place outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. If the leaves are dried in a drier, the temperature should not exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
The cut flowers can be poured over with honey or sugar syrup and stored on a refrigerator shelf. If desired, they may be dried in the same manner as the foliage.
The seeds are harvested after the nuts have turned brown.
The fruits are spread in 1 layer on cloth or paper leaves, ripened, and then dried in the same manner as the foliage. After the nuts are completely dry, they should be threshed.
The finished raw material is stored in a cool and dry place, it retains its medicinal properties for 1 year.
Borage species and varieties with photos and names
The following vegetable varieties of cucumber grass are popular with gardeners:
- Vladykinskoye Semko. The large, oval-shaped leaf plates have strong pubescence.
The coloration of the large flowers is blue. The plant has a pungent cucumber aroma.
- Gnome. This variety is frost-resistant, the stem of the bush is branched and it has a pungent cucumber smell.
Aprelsky, Rucheek and Okroshka varieties are also popular.
Only 2 varieties are grown as decorative plants:
- Alba. The bushes are decorated with white flowers.
- Variegata. This variety is mottled.
The properties of borage: harm and benefits
Borage's beneficial properties
From ancient times it has been known that borage has medicinal properties.
Not long ago, the leaves of this plant were used in the treatment of joint arthritis, gout and skin conditions that are caused by metabolic disorders in the body. Borage herb includes resins, carotene, ascorbic, malic and citric acids, oil, potassium and calcium.
This herb is characterized by an enveloping, mild laxative, diaphoretic, sedative and diuretic effect. When borage oil is taken internally, metabolic processes in the body are normalized, the emotional state improves, the immune system strengthens and the production of hormones of joy increases. This remedy is highly effective for gastritis and stomach ulcers.
The composition of such a herb includes hormones that have a beneficial effect on the adrenal glands, which is extremely important after taking steroids. Such oil is also used externally, as it promotes rapid healing of wounds. It is also used in cosmetology for the care of sensitive and problematic skin, as it helps to increase the ability of the skin to retain moisture. This oil can be included in anti-aging cosmetics, which are designed to combat dryness, premature aging and flabby skin, and also in creams with anti-cellulite effect, which are used to eliminate stretch marks on the skin. Cucumber grass is also used to make an infusion of the herb, an infusion of the flowers, and a cold infusion of the leaves.
In food, borage grass is widely used in American cuisine. Residents of the New World eat both the flowers and leaves of borage grass: the leaves are put in salads, which also include onions, spinach, salad leaves and cucumbers, while the flowers are used as a natural flavoring for soft drinks and punch. The flowers are also used in food in candied form, as candied fruits, with dried florets used as an additive, while putting them in confectionery and in bakery products.
Medicinal herbs. Borago.
Cucumber herb - Borago officinalis
Medicines based on borage are recommended to be drunk no longer than 30 days, otherwise liver problems may occur. This herb should not be eaten in diseases of the digestive organs, as well as people with an individual intolerance..