The Book of Comfrey

 ©  2024 Jelani K. .Asantewa

Chapter 1

COMFREY: General Information


 1)  Comfrey is a terrestrial, perennial plant with clumping flowers of varying shades depending on the species. Varying descriptions classify it as a: plant, a shrub or a herb. It grows to 3' or 4' tall.

 2) Comfrey's leaves are lance shaped. They are biggest in size at the base of t he plant. Leaves and stems   have short hairy spines which become rough and prickly to the touch as the plant matures. 

3)  Bocking 14 Comfrey flowers are tubular or bell-like in shape. They are pinkish to light lavender in color and grow in small clusters that drop downward. Flower color may vary from:  dark purple, light purple, light pink, blue, yellow, pale yellow or whitish) depending on the species. 

4)  Comfrey has a tap root system that grows to a very deep depth. Reportedly the famous vertical tap root burrows deep into the ground reaching 8' to 10 depths.  Because of its deep reaching root system Comfrey is ability to access and pump to the surface via root, stem and leaf system, vitamins and minerals providing nutrients that are not assessable to other plants. 

5)  Comfrey is a free spirited, hardy plant. It spreads by root, not by seed. No seeds are produced. Once established in its "forever" home it is extremely hard to get rid of and adds to its family without help from a gardener. Because of these characteristic this plant is classified as a weed in some circles, primarily because those who use this classification are not familiar with the its attributes. In this layman's dissertation on Comfrey the subject shall be regarded as and referred to as: plant and herb. 


There are many, many species of comfrey. Various sources cite Bocking 14 is the cross pollination of two species. It was specially designed to be seedless. Henry Doubleday (1810-1902 ) created Bocking 14 as a sterile hybrid using Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and Prickly Comfrey (Symphytum asperum.hich).

Mr. Doubleday named his hybrid creation Bocking 14. Bocking was the name of the town in the UK were he did his research and where  his non-seed producing strain of Comfrey was successfully created. 

This cross pollination created Bocking 14, a non-seed producing variety of Comfrey. The scientific name is Symphytum x uplandicum. The x means that it is a hybrid (a cross of two plants). [XX] So, no worries about your plants dropping seeds, then having the wind, birds or other animals carry them helter, skelter spreading Comfrey everywhere. It will spread some, but only by root. When its roots do spread out and send up a new plant it is near the mother plant, within several feet or up to several yards away. Remember, each new plant that grows will then repeat the process and send out roots that will send up new plants. This little community, or bunching, of Comfrey is called a colony. Colonies can take years to form. The colonies I have observed are usually made up of six to ten plants. I have never seen a colony that has over run an area in an invasive manor.

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