Comfrey – Bocking 14

(Symphytum Uplandicum)

Description

This herbaceous plant provides a plethora of large (up to 14”!), fuzzy green leaves from spring through fall. Small purple flowers blossom up to three times per year. This plant is incredibly multi-functional and a beautiful addition to any garden.

 

Cultivation Tips

This is one of the easiest plants to grow. The deep taproot allows comfrey to access water even in times of drought. Can be planted in nearly all soil and light conditions, but grows fastest in full sun. Comfrey can be cut back to the ground after flowering, 2-4 times per year, and will resprout leaves from the root crown. Do not harvest after early fall to allow the plant to store nutrients for the winter.
It is recommended that comfrey be planted with nitrogen fixers to maximize nutrient accumulation. Bocking 14 Comfrey does not produce seeds, and is instead propagated by root cuttings. Sections of taproot cut with a sharp knife to ~2” sections and planted in moist soil will root and resprout.

Uses

Comfrey is a dynamic nutrient accumulator and a highly versatile plant. The deep taproot mines mineral nutrients from the subsoil, which can then be deposited into the topsoil by chopping and dropping the leaves as mulch, up to three times per season. When the taproot decays it leaves organic matter deep in the soil. Comfrey is also a very fast-growing plant, helping to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into soil.
The flowers contain nectar that is a favorite of bees and other beneficial insects. Comfrey makes a great addition to compost heaps and can help increase heat and kick-start decomposition.
Leaves can be used medicinally in salves or poultices to treat minor scrapes and skin ailments.
Comfrey should not be consumed internally, as some research suggests it might negatively impact liver function, although further research is needed.

Friends

Comfrey makes a great companion to most shrub and tree-layer elements and can be a great way to build up soils poor in organic matter. Note that comfrey does not fix nitrogen, it only accumulates it, so it should be planted with a nitrogen fixing ground cover crop like clover or vetch.

[2], [3]