Symphytum X uplandicum
A well known permaculture plant, Comfrey is a fast growing herbaceous, deep rooted perennial, growing to about 1 metre under good conditions. The cultivar we grow is called Russian Comfrey, or ‘Bocking 14’. It is a sterile hybrid and does not set viable seed. It can gradually spread to form a patch over time, and it can be easily propagated from root sections or divisions. It is very hard to remove once established so locations should be considered carefully.
Its deep roots make it an effective mineral accumulator, bringing up nutrients from the subsoil where other plants can struggle to reach. As well as trace minerals the foliage has good levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and in particular, good levels of potassium. It prefers wet, fertile soil but can grow well in all soil types, and it can be cut to the ground multiple times a year. We find that once it flowers the leaf growth slows considerably, so keep cutting it before it flowers if you are after maximum productivity. Bumblebees love the flowers. Growth stops over the colder months and plants will die back but come away again in spring.
Comfrey is one of our favourite Permaculture plants, we use it as a chop and drop companion next to all of our fruit trees, as a border plant for our agroforestry rows, as chicken, duck and cow fodder, as a liquid fertilizer and as an addition to our worm farms. We also eat the young leaves in soups and stir-fries (chopped up finely as the texture is a bit rough), and we make a balm from the root infusion which is great for healing chapped lips and dry skin.
There are some concerns about liver toxicity with comfrey and consumption should probably be avoided if you have health problems in that area but we have eaten small amounts regularly for years and have had no ill effects.
Size: 10cm Pot