19 May 2015
Comfrey: Symphytum officinale
We grow comfrey in every spare nook. This deep-rooted perennial comes from Europe but has naturalized here, and it is one of the first plants to come up vigorously in the spring. Its leaves are large and dark green, and the plant also boasts purple or blue flowers which nod over in clusters. It flowers from May to August and will produce four cuttings through the season.
Comfrey has long been used medicinally and is most renowned for its ability to heal wounds, stings, sprains, and inflammations of all kinds. Known commonly as “knitbone,” it is used for healing broken bones in people and animals. Probably due to its high mineral content and the phytochemical allantoin, it stimulates cell reproduction.
In addition to its medicinal properties, farmers have traditionally fed comfrey to livestock as a rich source of minerals, especially in spring when they need a boost after a long winter with no greens.
Because comfrey is so deep rooted, it draws nutrients into itself from the subsoil and its NPK nutrient profile rivals that of commercial fertilizers, especially in the potassium department. In addition to using it medicinally, it can be used as a natural fertilizer, mulch, or compost pile activator.
Comfrey is easy to grow, tolerating a range of conditions, and once established is tenacious and enthusiastic. It spreads from the roots and even a tiny piece will produce a new plant. Its lush foliage makes a wonderful ornamental addition to the garden - just make sure you put it in a place you’d like it for a long time to come. When getting established, it loves lots of manure or compost as a fertilizer.