Comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.) is a perennial herb that is used as a fertilizer and as an herbal medicine. The most commonly used species is Russian comfrey (Symphytum × uplandicum), which is a cross or hybrid of Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and Rough Comfrey (Symphytum asperum).
Another popular variety is the “Bocking 14” Comfrey, which is a sterile variety that can only be propagated by splitting the root (i.e. it won’t spread all over your garden).
Why We Like It
Comfrey is one of those plants that, after you’ve put it to use yourself, you wonder why it’s not being grown in every garden. Comfrey has very deep roots and accumulate all kinds of minerals in its leaves. Mostly potassium and calcium, but also phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc and selenium. When the leaves dies in the autumn all of these minerals in the leaves are released and made available for worms and plants alike.
“Ecological orchardists often plant a ring of comfrey around a fruit tree, and periodically practice “chop and drop” mulching, which triggers the plant to regrow, converting yet more nutrients from the earth into biomass and then topsoil.” – Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
Not only that, just look look at these many ways to use comfrey:
- As fodder for cows, chickens, pigs, geese, etc. what you need to know
- As fertilizer
- Awesome NPK Ratio 1.8-0.5-5.3
- A Dynamic Accumulator of Si, N, Mg, Ca, K & Fe
- Making Liquid Fertilizer
- Leaf Boosting
- For Medicinal Use
- On wounds and ulcers
- On bites and stings
- On broken bones and sprains
- On bruises
- Internally (this is illegal)
- Making oils and salves
“The plant manufactures a substance called allantoin, which promotes wound healing and moisturizes the skin. Poultices of mashed leaves have long been used to heal cuts and scrapes.” – Toby Hemenway
Some people would call it a miracle plant, Jack Spirko of the Survival Podcast being one of them:
Why do I call comfrey a miracle plant? Well if I said there was one plant that could help heal broken bones, speed wound healing, heal skin ulcers that nothing else could close, provide fertilizer, provide mulch, feed livestock and be as easy to grow as breaking off a piece of a root and sticking it in the dirt, what would you call it? Comfrey does all of these things and frankly more.
Where To Get It
Organic Catalogue (Bocking 14)