Evergreen spreading perennial, also known as ornamental comfrey. Fantastic mineral accumulating ground cover plant, frost hardy and tolerant of full sun through to quite deep shade. Like the Russian comfrey, the plants do not set seed, however unlike the Russian comfrey, this species will spread on rhizomes. We have had it for years and not found it to be in the slightest bit invasive but we are very dry here. In areas with more moisture you may need to keep an eye on it! Cutting it back hard twice a year will give you great mulch or compost material and help to keep it in check.
Comfrey has a great balance of the major plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but is known in particular for its accumulation of potassium. It also contains silica, magnesium, calcium and iron. These nutrients will be naturally cycled through the soil as it dies down each winter but a well watered and fertilised patch can be harvested 3-5 times a season. The leaves can 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. As the evergreen comfrey is not such a deep rooter as Russian comfrey I do wonder to what extent the mineral accumulation occurs in this species, so if this is your main reason for purchasing, I would opt for the Russian.
Young comfrey leaves are also edible for humans – use them raw or cooked. They are slightly hairy so need to be chopped up finely. 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. Recent scientific research however has shown comfrey appeared to cause liver damage and cancerous tumors in rats. In light of this, the regular consumption of comfrey is not advisable.
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, indeed the genus name comes from the Greek words symphyo meaning to grow together and phyton for plant as the plant was believed to help heal wounds.
The fresh leaves make great chook fodder, are relished by geese (for relished read destroyed – and I mean totally!), and have been used as stock fodder for many years, but are preferably fed wilted.
Height to 20cm. Flowers are pretty and similar in form to Russian comfrey but are paler peachy-pink rather than lilac. Flowering time is early spring to mid summer.
Certified organic plant in 9cm pot.
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