Symphytum x uplandicum
Well known companion plant with many edible and medicinal uses too - every garden should have some! Being a ‘dynamic accumulator’, ie. bringing up minerals from lower soil levels via its taproot, it will also add minerals (silica, nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron) to the top soil as it dies down each winter. Leaves can also be used to make a liquid fertiliser, added to the compost heap or wilted and used to line potato trenches. Comfrey can also be grown around fruit trees as a ground cover and slashed several times a season to mulch the tree. The flowers are excellent bee attractors and the leaves also make great chook food. The young leaves are also edible for humans - use them raw or cooked. They are slightly hairy so need to be chopped up finely. Good mixed with other greens such as lettuce in salads or steamed with silverbeet or kale. Older leaves can be dried and used as tea, roots can be cut up and added to soups or roasted (and added to roasted dandelion and/or chicory roots if desired) and used as a coffee substitute.
The roots and leaves can be used medicinally either internally, or externally as a poultice. Comfrey is particularly known for its healing properties for skin complaints such as eczema and for cuts, bruises and sprains. It is a common component of healing creams. It was once known as ‘knitbone’ for its role in healing broken bones. Plant in full sun or part shade. It does not spread by seed but plant it where you want it – it’s impossible to remove! Height to 75cm when in flower - pretty lilac-pink bells in summer. $7.50 9cm pot, 9.50 11cm pot.