Symphytum x uplandicum
Well known companion plant with many edible and medicinal uses too – every garden should have some! It 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.
The young leaves were said to be edible for humans – used 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.
Plant in full sun or part shade. Height to 75cm when in flower – pretty lilac-pink bells in summer.
Note – Russian Comfrey is a naturally occuring hybrid which is sterile and does not spread by seed. However do make sure you plant it where you want it – it’s impossible to remove the deep chunky taproot!
9cm pot. Certified organic plant. Contact us for pricing for bulk smaller grades.
Freight: Lowest freight rate is currently $13.50 for between one and nine 9cm pots, or up to 6 x 11cm pots, to an urban address. Further charges apply for larger orders, larger plants, or rural addresses. For more info please see our full list of freight and packing charges.
Main photo: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/comfrey-its-history-uses-benefits