The herb of courage

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plants with a purpose -

Read any his­tor­i­cal de­scrip­tion of bor­age and there's al­most al­ways a ref­er­ence to its abil­ity ‘to ex­hil­a­rate and make the mind glad' and ‘to drive away all sad­ness'

An­cient writ­ers be­lieved bor­age was the ne­penthe (a kind of an­tide­pres­sant) of Homer given by the Queen of Egypt to He­len of Troy ‘to for­get all sor­rows'.

To be­stow courage, bor­age flow­ers were floated in the stir­rup cups of the Cru­saders be­fore their de­par­ture. It was sug­gested a bit of bor­age put into a promis­ing man's drink would give him the courage to pro­pose.

Her­bal­ist John Eve­lyn wrote in the 17th cen­tury that bor­age is ‘of known virtue to re­vive the hypochon­driac and chear the hard stu­dent'.

It's not known where bor­age is na­tive to, pos­si­bly the west­ern Mediter­ranean or the Mid­dle East. The name is thought to be of Ara­bic ori­gins, mean­ing ‘fa­ther of rough­ness', a ref­er­ence to it coarse, rough leaves. Oth­ers sug­gest it is de­rived from the Celtic name 'bar­rach' mean­ing courage. The Welsh name, llawenlys, trans­lates as ‘herb of glad­ness'.

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