Assessment of the environmental variability of a borage strain (Borago officinalis L.) by cultivation in different European regions

  • B. Galambosi Agrifood Research Finland - Mikkeli, Mikkeli
  • T. Moilanen Agrifood Research Finland, Kainuu Research Station, Sotkamo
  • L. Angelini University of Pisa, Dipartimento di Agronomia e Gestione dell’ Agroecosistema, Pisa
  • F. Pank Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Quedlinburg
  • J. Domokos KHV Kozmetikai es Haztartasvegyipari Fejlesztö Kft, Budapest
  • P.K. Svoboda The Scottish Agricultural College, Auchincruive, Ayr, Scotland
  • S. Dragland The Norvegian Crop Research Institute, Apelswoll Research Centre, Division Kise
Keywords: Borago officinalis, growth, seed yield, seed oil, fatty acids, environmental variability


 To study the environmental variability, a blue flowered borage genotype (Borago
officinalis L.) was cultivated uniformly at various sites in Europe. Four plots of 1 m2 were
established at each region of which four were situated more in the North (Scotland, Norway
and two in Finland) and two more in the South (Germany and Italy). The environment had a
diverging impact on borage, depending on the characteristic under study. The environment
had a particularly strong influence on the seed yield with a range of 159-837 kg/ha and on the
germination capacity. The variability of the plant height and the duration of the growing
period were smaller. The lowest variability revealed the thousand seed weight, ratio of black
seeds, seed oil content with min. 27.6 % and max. 34 %, and the oil components, including γ-
linolenic acid, ranging between 18.3 and 22.5 %. Basing on the results of this experiment it
can be concluded that the selection of an appropriate cultivation site has high importance in
particular for the seed yield, which seems to be favoured by cultivation in the northern regions
of Europe. A high content of fatty seed oil and of γ-linolenic acid as its most important
component are achievable under various environmental conditions.


Barre DE, 2001. Potential of Evening Primrose, Borage, Black Currant, and Fungal Oils in

Human Health. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 45, 47–57. DOI: 10.1159/000046706.

Canvin DT, 1965. The effect of temperature on the oil content and fatty acid composition of

the oils from several oil seed crops. Canadian Journal of Botany, 43(1), 63-69.

de Haro A, DominquezV, del Rio M, 2002. Variability in the content of gamma-linolenic acid

and other fatty acids of the seed oil of germplasm of wild and cultivated borage (Borago

officinalis L.). Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal plants. 9 (2/3), 297-304.

de Lisi A, Montesano V, Negro D, Sarli G, Blanco E, Sonnante G, Laghetti G, 2014. Genetic

diversity in Borago officinalis germplasm as revealed by seed oils and AFLP polymorphism.

Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 61, 853–859.

del Rio-Celestino M, Font R, de Haro-Bailón A, 2008. Distribution of fatty acids in edible

organs and seed fractions of borage (Borago officinalis L.). Journal of the Science of Food

and Agriculture, 88, 248–255.

Dybing DC, Zimmerman DC, 1967. Fatty acid accumulation on maturing flax seeds as

influenced by environment. Plant Physiology, 41, 1465-1470.

European Pharmacopoeia Online 8.2., 2014. 01/2010:2105. Borage (starflower) oil, refined.

S. 1681-1682.

Francis CM, Campbell MC, 2003. New high quality oil seed crops for temperate and tropical

Australia. A report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, May

RIRDC Publication No 03/045, p. 27.

Galambosi B, Domokos J, Sairanen J, 2014. Experiences with different methods of harvesting

borage (Borago officinalis L.). Zeitschrift für Arznei-& Gewürzpflanzen, 19, 61-66.

Galambosi B, Sairanen J, Domokos J, 2003. Effect of harvesting methods on the seed yield

and oil quality of Borago officinalis and Oenothera biennis in South-East Finland. In: The 7th

International Congress Phytopharm 2003: Actual problems of creation of new medicinal

preparations of natural origin, Proceedings of congress, St.-Petersburg-Pushkin, Russia, July

-5, 2003. pp. 570-574.

Gálvez C, de Haro A, 2002. First Field Trials of Borage (Borago officinalis L.) in Andalusia

(Southern Spain=as a Source of “Biological” Gamma Linolenic Acid. Journal of Herbs,

Spices & Medicinal plants, 9 (2/3), 89-93.

Harris HC, McWilliam JR, Mason WK, 1978. Influence of temperature on oil content and

composition of sunflower seed. Australin Journal of Agricultural Research, 29, 1203-1212.

Hegi G, 1957. Illustrierte Flora von Mitteleuropa, Band V, Teil 3. J. F. Lehmanns Verlag,

München, pp. 2230-2232.

Janick J, Simon JE, Quinn J, Beraubaire N, 1989. Borage: a source of gamma linolenic acid.

In: Craker LE, Simon J E. (Eds.), Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants: Recent Advances in

Botany, Horticulture and Pharmacology. Oryx Press, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, Vol 4., pp.145-

Laurence L, 2004. Borage production for oil and gamma-linolenic acid. A report for the Rural

Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australia. Publication No. 04/040 Project

No. UT-33A.

Levy A, Palevich D, Ranen C, 1993. Increasing gamma linolenic acid in evening primrose

under hot temperatures by breeding early cultivars. Acta Horticulturae, 330, 219-225.

Mhamdi B, Wannes W A, Bourgou S, Marzouk B, 2009. Biochemical characterization of

borage (Borago officinalis L.) seeds. Journal of Food Biochemistry, 33, 331–341.

Novák I, Riba Z, Kaliskó Á, Ferenczy A, Sárosi Sz, 2010. Investigation of the germination

capacity of some medicinal plant species after ten years of cold-storage. Zeitschrift für

Arznei- & Gewürzpflanzen, 15(2), 76-80.

Polachic D, 1996. Growing borage for profit. Small Farm Today, 13 (1), 45.

Reiner H, Ceylan A, Marquard R, 1989. Agronomic performance of evening primrose

(Oenothera biennis) in Turkey and Germany. Eucarpia Congress, Göttingen, Gemany, Poster


Schuster W, 1992. Ölpflanzen in Europa. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 56-158.

Simpson MJA, 1993. Comparison of swathing and desiccation of borage (Borago officinalis)

and estimation of optimum harvest stage. Annals of Applied Biology 123, 105-108.

Tremolieres A, Dubacq JP, Drapier D, 1982. Unsaturated fatty acids in maturing seeds of

sunflower and rape: Regulation by temperature and light intensity. Phytochemistry 21, 41-45.

Velasco L, Goffman FD, 1999. Chemotaxonomic significance of fatty acids and tocophelors

in Boraginaceae. Phytochemistry 52, 423-426.