February Plant of the Month: Borage (Maltese: Fidloqqom) Borago officinalis

Project Pancake Flora –

 Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone
Photo by Guido Bonett

The humble borage is one of the more locally known medicinal plants and it also features in our Foraging book. In its scientific name the specific term “officinalis” immediately indicates its medicinal properties – Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy made it easier for all to identify the helpful plants by assigning this term to plants which had a longstanding reputation of being medicinal. The latin term originates from “officina” – the actual building in which monks prepared infusions and extracts in medieval monasteries.

The flowers (which have a bit of a cucumbery taste), the leaves and the oil from its seeds are used as remedies for a wide variety of ailments. Guido Lanfranco in ‘Ħxejjex Mediċinali’ (1993) mentions its well known use for coughs and colds amongst other things.

This bristly annual plant flowers in winter until spring and grows happily along roadsides and dry stone walls or even disturbed habitats. A great pollinator plant, Borage also adds a pretty blue tinge to even the most drab of landscapes. Occasionally it can be seen in a pink dress too.

As with all foraged plants ensure that you only take the necessary amount and without harming the rest of the plant. Always leave enough for the bees and other creatures that depend on it!

About Project PANCAKE:

As part of the Project PANCAKE (Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone) we are looking at a number of plant species chosen together with the deaf communities in Malta, Italy, Spain and UK to create new signs for plants which until now had never been described in sign language. 

Read more about PANCAKE here!

Check out our Community library for publications on local biodiversity!

Click here to get an insight into Trees and Shrubs of the Maltese Islands and their Habitats by Eman J. Calleja.

Photos by Guido Bonett, Annalise Falzon, Emmanuel Schembrl and text by Annalise Falzon

Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone

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