Indispensable in permaculture: the Comfrey


Common name : Comfrey
Scientific names :

  • Symphytum Asperum (rough/Thorny Comfrey)
  • Symphytum ibericum (Dwarf comfrey) : 30-40 cm high and wide
  • Symphytum grandiflorum (Large flower comfrey) : 20 to 30 cm tall, 45 cm wide
  • Symphytum Officianale (Wild/common/medicinal comfrey ): 90 to 150 cm high and wide
  • Eastern Symphytum (White comfrey) : 60 to 90 cm high, 30 to 45 cm wide
  • Symphytum tuberosum (comfrey tuberous) : 30 to 60 cm high and width
  • Symphytum x uplandicum (Red/Caucasian/Quaker/blue comfrey) : Natural hybrid of S. Asperum and S. Officinale : 30 to 150 cm high, 90 cm wide

consoude botaniqueFamily : Boraginaceae (family of borage or Myosotis)
Cultivars/varieties : Several species/varieties available
Pollination : self-pollination
Life : could live more than 10 years
Description : Comfrey is a perennial hernacvée plant to Fast growth. Comfrey forms clumps with a deep taproot that helps to extract nutrients? Its large leaves can be cut and left on the spot or moved to the area of your choice depending on nutrient requirements.
Its Pretty little flowers (which attract a lot of useful insects). The comfrey can grow in many climatic conditions and soil composition. This is the ideal fertilizer plant.
The story :

  • The comfrey is from Europe and Asia.
  • It has been cultivated for about 400 years BC and has been used in medicine by the Chinese for over 2 000 years.

Main uses of the comfrey :

  • Mulch : The comfrey can be cut 1 to 2 times a year (4 to 5 times a year if fertilized) and up to 10 times in tropical areas where it can produce up to 40t of plant material per hectare. Cut to about 7/8 cm above the ground and use as a green mulch. Avoid harvests from the first season.
  • Liquid fertilizer : Soaking the chopped comfrey leaves in the water for several weeks produces a thick, dark liquid that can be diluted with water and used as a fertilizer for plants.
  • Mineral accumulator : Rich in potassium, but also in phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron and magnesium.
  • Its nectar and pollen attract the bees.

Flower ComfreySecondary uses :

Fodder crop for pigs, sheep and poultry.  Cattle and rabbits do not like fresh leaves and eat them only wilted.
The Comfrey has a long history of medicinal plant in particular to help heal wounds and bones.

Conditions of cultivation of the comfrey :

Light: Prefers full sun shade: tolerates light shade (about 50%)
Humidity: Average, some species may be a little more tolerant to drought
PH: tolerates a wide range (6.5 to 8.5)
Special considerations for Growth : It is an excellent species to plant under fruit trees.
Propagation : Can be multiplied by root cuttings in winter and spring or in cold season. Planting about 6/7 cm deep. Possible Division of roots in spring. Symphytum Officianale (common/medicinal comfrey) can self-inoculate.
Maintenance : Minimal.
Concerns : can spread and become invasive. (Note: The use of the cultivar « Bocking 14 » is sterile and prevents its propagation.) And can be difficult to eradicate. All parts of the plant contain pentacyliques alkaloids and therefore exhibit some toxicity (regular consumption may result in hepatic toxicity). The leaves and stems are covered with small hairs that can irritate the skin.


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