(Symphytum x uplandicum)

Meet your New Plant

The Book of Comfrey 

(Symphytum x uplandicum / Bocking 14 / Russian Comfrey)

Copyright December 19. 2023 Jelani K. Asantewa All Rights Reserved

"The Book of Comfrey" slideshow gives you a quick glimpse at the seasonal life stages of your Comfrey plant. The pictures progress from 1) root cuttings 2) rooted plants 3) established young plants 4) mature plants 5) flowering plants 6) mid-summer drooping  7) mildew formation on leaves and stems  8) late-season drooping, drying and finally 10) leaf decay during winter dormancy. 11) Then - with spring the cycle of this perennial starts all over again.

COMFREY ~ An Overview 

(You may click on all images within this text to enlarge.)


"The Book of Comfrey" is a collection of my observations, things I've experienced and concepts I've contemplated over my many years of Comfrey farming. There are many species of Comfrey. My experience pertains to Bocking 14 / Russian Comfrey. I have chosen not to concentrate or rehash, in depth, the common traits and generalities that are standard to almost all information about Comfrey. Nor will I delve into highly technical aspects of the plant's scientific complexities. But rather I will present some of the practical information which I have acquired throughout the years and do not generally, if at all, see passed on to the public.   


COMMON NAMES - Europe and America

Common Names:  Comfrey, Boneset, Knitbone, Black Wort, Wall Wort, Consound, Slippery Root 

COMMON NAMES - Australia (1)



Scientific Name: Symphytum x uplandicum

Botanical Name: Bocking 14 / Russian Comfrey


Family:  Borage / Boraginaceae / Forget-Me-Not 

Genus: Symphytum

Kingdom: Plantae


Dynamic Healer

Dynamic Accumulator

Nutrient Pump

Green Manure

Comfrey Tea ( Liquid Fertilizer)

Soil Amender

Compost Activator

NICK NAMES - *Ms. J Originals  

© 12-19-2023 Jelani K. Asantewa

*Worm Attractor / *Earthworm Hotel / *Worm Generator 

*Bumblebee Shopping Plaza / *Bumblebee Plaza

*The Upstairs - Downstairs Plant

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.

Chapter 2

COMFREY: Descriptions and Details


The Comfrey plant consist of a tap root system, stems, leaves and flowers. It is an outdoor perennial plant that grows from early spring into late fall and is dormant throughout the winter months. The plant thrives well in most planting zones and in a variety planting environments. 

Root System: 

Comfrey has a Deep Feeding Tap Root System. Reportedly the roots can go vertically down into the ground approximately 8' to 10'. This is a much further depth than most plants can reach. ( I have never had occasion to dig a root to that depth - but wouldn't you just love to see that sight?). At these depths the Comfrey root is able to access many minerals and vitamins that other plants cannot. It brings these valuable properties up to the surface where surrounding plants can take advantage of them. Mineral properties will be discussed in 4-

The minerals and vitamins are also stored in the Comfrey plant's system; root, stem and leaves. When these parts of the plant  are used as fertilizer the minerals are released into the soil, creating a rich and luscious planting bed. Fertalizer usrs discussed ib xxx/. Another advantage of its deep root system is that it can reach underground water systems, therefore making it draught resistant. 

The tap root grows downward and also sends out lateral roots that produce new plants near the mother plant, eventually creating a group of plants called colonies.

Root Color: 

The exterior of the root ranges from brown to black. There may be white new growth lateral roots as well. The interior of a mature root is white or a light cream. The older roots many times resemble bone with the marrow missing, as they sometimes grow into bone like shapes and have hollow areas where the marrow would be.. 

Root Harvest: 

Depending on the size when planted, the roots take at least two growing seasons after panting before they are ready for harvest for use in salves or for propagation. You can harvest as soon as you like, but if you can wait until the third year it is even better. Waiting gives the root system a chance to establish itself and spread out and down. Roots will be thicker, longer and more plentiful with each year they are allowed to mature. If you desire a plant that is bush like, tall, full with leaves and sprawling roots, do not disturb the root system to early.


PROPIGATION: Root Cuttings and Crown Divisions:





Leaves are lance shaped and are biggest in size at the base of the plant. The leaves and stems have hairs that become course and prickly as the plant matures. At seasonal maturity leaves will began to droop and the undergrowth will dry to a crispy dark brown. When left on the ground the dry matter turns to a black sludge consistency (that's the good stuff you hear about that makes the soil really rich).  

Leaf Harvest:

You can cut and harvest Comfrey leaves three to four times during a growing season, sometimes even more. The leaves grow back very quickly after being cut. If possible it is best to let the plant flower at least once before cutting so that the bees can harvest their nectar at least once. If possible leave some flowers behind so that the bees will be able to keep gathering their nectar. Cutting back is actually good for the plant. It makes way for new growth. 





that bloom from late spring into early fall.



Chemical Properties:

Minerals & Chemicals bought up from ground through root system

Comfrey has lots of positive chemical properties which are excellent for soil amendment and for medicinal purposes providing beneficial healing properties for aches, pains, strains and brakes in bone. The plant also offers nutritional fodder and serves as an enjoyable treats for some animals. In juxtaposition however,  It has a negative toxic property, pyrrolizidine alkaloids. This chemical substance is found in the plant's leaf, stem and root. It is thought that pyrrolizidine alkaloids may be a chemical defense system which protects against predictors to ensure the species longevity. [ ]** This toxicity may cause liver damage or cancer and may result in death. For this reason the sale of Comfrey in orally / ingested products has been banned in the USA and some other countries. The topical / external use of Comfrey in the form of poultices, salves and ointments has not been banned. However, it is advised by some that it not be used on an open wound area.

With that said , there are 60 types and it is interesting to note that all species of Comfrey do not share the same toxicity. [ ] Nor are all the parts of an individual Comfrey plant equally as toxic. There are many factors in determining the degree of toxicity within the plant. [ ]

1)   The species of Comfrey is a factor in the toxicity of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids.  (Depending on the source       referenced there are approximately 30 t0 60 recognized species, some of which are hybrids,.)

2)  Pyrrolizidine alkaloids vary from plant to plant - even within a species. 

3)  Pyrrolizidine alkaloids levels differ in each part of the plant:

  • Younger leaves contain higher levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids than older leaves. 
  • The stem: No research found on pyrrolizidine alkaloids levels in the stem.
  • Flowers: No research found on pyrrolizidine alkaloids levels in the flower.
  • The root is the most toxic. Its pyrrolizidine alkaloids levels are many times more toxic than in younger leaves.

4)  The Growing season may cause variations in pyrrolizidine alkaloids levels.     

5)  The time of harvest (picking of leaves during a growing season) may cause variations in pyrrolizidine           alkaloids levels. 

6)  Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are not always found - in an individual plants basis. 

More on toxicity values in Medicinal/.

Chapter 3

COMFREY: Medicinal Uses 

3-1) Benefits

To the positive Comfrey does produce allantoin.  This is a compound that is known to promote the production of skin cells and cartilage. [ ]Hence its reputation for being a dynamic healer. Because of its remarkable ability to speed up the healing process it has earned its most common names: Knitbone and Boneset. Some still find its use as a topical controversial.

**** Comfrey has not been banned by the FDA as a topical application.

3-2) Warnings

A)  Comfrey is known as a healing agent. It is known for, and is famous for, accelerating tissue and bone         growth in the healing process. Although used throughout history as a healing herb, internally and               externally, it is now considered dangerous for internal use.

B)  **** In 2001 Comfrey was banned in the USA. The FDA banned it for use in commercially sold oral            medications and foods. The ban labels it as a toxin because it produces Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids, a                    compound that reportedly may cause liver damage and/or cancer, possibly leading to death. [ ]

3-3) Forms of Comfrey Topicals:

"Comfrey ointments (containing 5 to 20% comfrey), creams, poultices, and liniments are made from the fresh or dried herb, leaf, or root of comfrey species. Use only products made from leaves of common comfrey." Mount Sinai Health System [2]

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs):

PAs are the toxic chemical substance found in Comfrey. The substance is found throughout the plant's vascular system. Although it runs throughout the entire plant the levels of toxicity are said to be different in each part of the plant. There seems to be a consensus about the various levels of PAs in Comfrey plant parts. The Root has the highest level of Pas and is the most potent. The younger leaves are second  

in potency to the root. Larger leaves are said to have the least Pas and therefore are the least potent. The larger leaves are also the oldest leaves because they are the first leaves the plant shoots out. As the plant grows the lower leaves grow large and fuller. The youngest and smallest leaves will always be found at the top of the plant. I have yet to find any data or discussion on PAs in the stems or flowers. When using comfrey to make any sort of concoction it would seem that use of the lower, larger, older leaves would be most diligent. The cast away upper, smaller leaves could be used in any of the  fertilizer applications. Nothing has to go to waist.

It is important to remember that there are may species in the Comfrey family and each species may have its own PA levels of toxicity characteristics. And within a species individuals may vary in potency depending on many environmental factors. 

Level of PA potency / toxicity found in each part of the plant:

Comfrey preparations are made from the leaves or other parts of the plant grown above the ground. New leaves tend to have more of the poisonous pyrrolizidine alkaloids than older leaves. Some preparations were also made from the roots, but roots contain up to 16 times the amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. [2]

3-4) Topical Comfrey Precautions:

*Always Consult your physician or veterinarian first, before using topical Comfrey.

* Do not use Comfrey topicals on open wounds or broken skin.

         1)  "DO NOT use Comfrey topicals if you have liver disease, alcoholism, or cancer. Children, the elderly,                 and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use comfrey products." Mount Sinai Health                     System [2]   (This includes all topical applications.)

        2)  Take breaks between periods of application:

             "Use only small amounts of cream with Comfrey for no longer than 10 days at a time." Mount                   Sinai Health System [2]

        3)  DO NOT use for prolonged periods of time:

             "DO NOT use any Comfrey product for more than 4 to 6 total weeks in one calendar year." Mount               Sinai Health System [2]

        4)  "Since comfrey may increase the risk of liver damage, it should not be used with other                              medications that may also affect the liver, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). If you take any                        medications, whether prescription or over the counter, ask your doctor before using comfrey."                      Mount Sinai Health System [2]

        5) "You should not use some herbs that have also been known to cause liver problems, such as kava,                skullcap, and valerian, while using comfrey ointments or creams." Mount Sinai Health System [2]

7)  DO NOT use Comfrey topicals on fractured or broken bones. that have not been attended to or set                 properly by a qualified healthcare practitioner. Comfrey heals quickly and undiagnosed bone                         fractures or brakes may be fused in the wrong position.

       6)  Proceed immediately to an Emergency Room for any injury or open wounds such as scrapes, punctures, cuts, or burns, where the skin has been broken. Broken skin may present the risk of serious infection therefore it is necessary to seek the immediate attention of a qualified healthcare provider. 


       D) Consider interaction with alcohol, food, supplements, and diseases. [1]

Medication's efficiency may be hampered by the other things that you put into your body. All Topical medications are absorbed through the skin and therefore do end up inside your body.

Even over the counter medications that you don't really consider, like cough drops, antacids and a calming glass of liquor must be accounted for when introducing a new medication, Although Comfrey taken topically may not be as potent as when taken orally, it is still entering your body. Because Comfrey (and all topicals) are absorbed it is important to consider what medications you are combining. It is important to remember that the medications, foods or drinks that you combine could potentially effect the efficiency of a medication.   Bad combinations of any sort may result in harmful side effects, decrease the efficiency of one or both, even cancel each other out. Both scenarios have the potential to be equally as harmful. 


       F) In cases of persistent or severe infection arise seek help at an Emergency Room IMMEDIATELY.


1-5) Comfrey Topicals in Survival Mode:

If you find yourself stranded and in survival mode and YOU DO DECIDE, contrary to all warnings, to use Comfrey topical preparations on humans or animals, * "AT YOUR OWN RISK" and without consulting a qualified healthcare provider there are things to consider and know.: 

With no hope of timely access to the proper healthcare, but access to the Comfrey plant or a concocted Comfrey topical is available be aware of these important cautions:

  • Keep the area clean and/or stable and follow first aid for the appropriate type of injury. 
  • * Seek professional care as soon as possible. 

3-6) Infection Alert:

if a topical is used on a minor open wound be sure all infection is cleared from the wound before using the topical. Comfrey heals so quickly and efficiently that infection may be healed, "sealed" into the body. If in question it would be better to attend to the injury by just keeping it clean rather than to unknowingly seal an infection in. 

*** An infection, no mater how slight,  sealed into the body has the potential of causing a serious, life threatening scenario. Monitor throughout the day and night for infection and also with each                       application of the topical. If infection is present or arises treat infection before any further applications are made.       

3-7) Bone Fracture or Bone Break Alert:   

DO NOT use Comfrey topicals on fractured or broken bones. that have not been diagnosed, attended to or set properly by a qualified healthcare practitioner. Comfrey heals quickly and improperly diagnosed or improperly treated fractures or brakes may be fused in the wrong position. More damage may be done than good. If you do not have access a qualified professional then treat the fracture or brake using standard emergency first aid and wait for qualified help.

Chapter 4

COMFREY: As An  Edible

4-1 Human Diet:

**** Do not consume Comfrey in any form.

**** The commercial sale of oral preparations containing Comfrey, medications and foods, was banned in            2001. Comfrey is banned because it contains PA which may cause liver damage and death. 

Although commercial use has been banned some people may, at their own risk, choose to privately  consume comfrey anyway. 

***If you choose to privately disregard warnings and proceed to consume it "at your own risk" there are still considerations and precautions to be considered:

  1. if you decide to eat it and you have not eaten it before then try only one part of the plant at a time. Starting with a very small quantity or piece. The reason being you must make sure that you will not have an allergic reaction to the plant. Test separately each part consumed as each part may elicit a different reaction. This should be done with any new food that you try for the first time. As a person that has food allergies I can attest to the practicality of this advise, When you see that there is no reaction increase the amounts eaten gradually until you feel safe that you are not allergic to the given food . 
  2. Be mindful of the part of the plant that you eat. Remember that the root has the greatest levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, while the younger leaves have greater levels than the older leaves. [3]
  3. Limit quantities and frequency of intake.
  4. If you are on medications and plan on eating Comfrey, research possible interactions with any prescription drugs you are taking. Also consider interactions with over the counter drugs that you take, as well as with any vitamins or herbs which you may be taking.
  5. If you are a Comfrey aficionado and eat it regularly, do not put it in recipes that you will be serving to guest without their knowledge, even if they are use to eating foraged foods. They may not have had comfrey before and they may be someone who does not want to take a chance on Comfrey consumption. Also you will want to give anyone who has not had Comfrey the chance to test for an allergic reaction prior to consuming a standard serving size.
  6. Do not use if:   
  7. A) You have any liver ailment or disease   
  8. B) You are pregnant.    C) You are nursing.
  9. *Always consult your primary physician or other qualified health care provider before eating or using comfrey in any form: (orally or topically).


Comfrey is a very economical addition to your pet-family's or your livestock's diet. Once the plant is established it will be a dependable, re-occurring food source. It is a good source of nutrients. Many grazing animals and some fowl enjoy it. Comfrey is considered a nutritious, low maintenance, handy and free addition and supplement to a variety of animal diets.

Some of the domestic animals that may benefit from and enjoy Comfrey added to their diet are: chickens, cows, pigs, goats, horses, rabbits. The use of Comfrey is always controversial, even within the animal population, so do your research and consult your veterinarian before introducing Comfrey into the diets of animals that are in your care. 

*Consult your veterinarian to see if Comfrey is a good choice, for your livestock or Pet Family member. They will also be able to advise you of the correct feeding directions such as amounts, frequency and what, if any, type of feed mixture to combine it with.

Domestic Animals That May Eat Comfrey: 

Rabbits, chickens, ducks, goats, cows, horses, donkeys, ponies, sheep, pigs all reportedly eat comfrey. It is touted as an inexpensive good and healthy supplement which can help cut the feed cost of more expensive forms of fodder.  Some animals like to eat it fresh while others prefer it wilted. I do not own any of these animals so I have no personal testimony to using Comfrey as a food source for domesticated animals. 

Animal Diet:

  1. *Always consult your family veterinarian before using comfrey orally or topically.
  2. Introduce Comfrey into the animal diet in small amounts to test their tolerance. Be sure their system tolerates the herb before giving large quantities. 
  3. When feeding comfrey to animals it has been noted in many articles that some animals prefer, or don't mind, the leaves fresh. Others prefer the leaves wilted, while still others prefer them dried. Before feeding do research to see what method of preparation the animal group you are serving usually prefers. Other considerations are what quantities to feed them and what time intervals between feedings are suggested (if any).  
  4. If the animal is on medications check with your veterinarian before using Comfrey as fodder.

Chapter 4

COMFREY: As A Gardening Work Horse


Intro:  has many used in farming and gardening.

3-1) Comfrey Tea Fertilizer:

A liquid plant food called "Comfrey Tea" can be made from the plant by putting the leaves, stems and water in a container and leaving the concoction until it rots into a stinky slush. It can be cut with water to make it less potent and to extend its quantity. It is often just called "Comfrey Tea" but I prefer "Comfrey Tea Fertilizer", to clearly distinguish it from the "Medicinal Herbal Comfrey Tea". They are two very different drinks indeed and we do not want any mix ups about what "this" tea is intended for. This fertilizer concoction will have the properties of the vitamins and minerals pulled from the ground. Most plants and trees do not have rots that reach these vitamins and minerals so  the fertilizer tea provides a good delivery system.

Once done "simmering", depending on how many leaves/stems are used, you may need to dilute it with water three to four times so that the strength does not burn the roots of the plant it is applies to.

3-2) Soil Amender: 

Comfrey is an excellent for improving the condition of soil. There are several components to this phenomena. The first is that once mature the lateral roots reach deep into the ground, reportedly 8 to 10 feet. ( I personally have never dug one that deep - but would love to see that. ) At these depths the roots are able to reach vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are not accessible to other plant life. The roots draw these components to the surface to nourish its own system of stems and leaves. In doing so it also nourishes the ground around it.

Second, when the Comfrey leaves are left on the plant and the normal growth cycle is left to play out the leaves will die and fall to the ground. As the season progresses the leaf matter, which is composed of the nutrients pulled from deep below the ground, decay into the soil depositing their rich attributes. When left to play out the soil only gets richer and richer, The quality of this improved soil can be seen and felt. 


3-3) Green manure: 

is another form  

3-4) Compost Activator:


3-5) Companion Plant:

One of Comfrey's many uses is as a companion plant in flower gardens and in orchards. Because of Comfrey's ability to deliver valuable vitamins and minerals, unattainable by other plants, from deep within the ground gardeners and orchardist strategically plant Comfrey beside and among the plants/trees in their flowerbeds and orchard. The soil around the companion plants is also enriched when the plant is left untouched and allowed to wilt and decay forming on site green manure. The companion plant offers the convenience of fertilizing the plant without the work of repeatedly transporting matter to the site.


USES -DAMS/ fence line


1) Vase and Hand Held Bouquets:

A few stems of Comfrey flowers make a beautiful addition to your wild flower bouquet. Just a few. Leave the bulk for the bees and other insects and pollinators that depend on them for their nectar.

2) Garden / Ground Cover:

Comfrey, which grows to about 3 feet tall makes an excellent ground cover or an attractive addition to a flower garden or a pollinator garden. It is beneficial both in visual and soil health aspects. If used as a back boarder in a flower garden leave a path to get to it, it will need to be trimmed several times during the season or it will droop and fall on near by plants, or at the very least look messy (If it is in a place where visual appearance matters). Leaves will get white mildew spots which do not bother other plants, but will need to be cut back to allow for a tidy new growth, Mildew happens to all Comfrey plants and just provides a signals to you that it is time for a trim. 

Chapter 6


Size at Maturity:

Mature Comfrey stands approximately 3ft to 4 ft. tall. The circumference of an older plant, 3 or 4 years old,  at seasonal maturity has a circumference of approximately XXXXX .


Plant Maturity:  

Comfrey takes time to mature into its ultimate "Super Star" potential. Depending on the size root cutting or crown division you start with, it may take three to four years to become all that you are looking for it to become. If you have a small gardening area and you want to make salves and oils for family use or have if you have only a few animals to feed than you can afford to wait for your comfrey to reach its ultimate productivity because the  one and two year old plants may produce enough to sustain your needs.

if you are looking for fully productive plants which establish colonies and you don't want to spend years waiting for this level of maturity than a crown cutting   the closer you will be to the results you are seeking. A two inch bare root cutting is not going to yield the deep feeding, 8' tap root nor roots that spread out for yards and create colonies in one year. if you want to take full advantage of all the plants historical properties It is important to let the roots get established (in other words don't chop it into a million pieces to early). Think of it as an apple tree. Give it time to grow and mature before you expect it to bare the valuable "fruit" (deep reaching massive roots) that you desire .

Chapter 5



Comfrey's habitat is terrestrial, meaning it lives on land. Its natural habitat is quite varied. It can be found growing unattended in open rural or suburban spaces. It is  very adaptable and will grow almost anywhere.  It is usually found more inland in the center or outer edges of fields, woods and other unkept grassy spaces. I have not personally seen Comfrey growing naturally along the water edges of ponds, brooks, streams or rivers. However if intentionally placed there I am sure it would do just fine. It is a very hardy plant and holds it's own among even the tallest and thickest of weeds. 


The habitat that Comfrey grows in is home to a broad spectrum of wildlife. From its small flowering leafy tops, to its deep reaching, sprawling roots there is a whole ecosystem teaming with life. During varying times of the spring to fall season it is host to a wide variety of creatures. 

  1. Its flowers provide much sought after nectar for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. 
  2. Spiders, ladybugs, small caterpillars and predatory wasp are some of the varied insects that enjoy lazy days sunning and searching for food on and around the sturdy leaves.  
  3. Its stem bases and root system provide a moist shelter for invertebrates such as earthworms, slugs and snails.
  4. The large leaves at the bottom of the plant provide temporary shelter for small reptiles and amphibians.
  5. Comfrey provides food for wild herbivores such as rabbits and deer. They nibble on a few leaves at most and do not destroy a whole plant or even the whole leaf.


Chapter 6


ECOSYSTEM - Bumble Bees and Other Pollinators:

When the flowers are at full bloom the Bumble Bees are at their busiest gathering the precious nectar. It is a sight to behold, see and hear, when all the flowers of a colony are in bloom and the bees are working overtime to take advantage of their presence.

* To honor this attribute of Comfrey i have coined these nick names:

*Bumble Bee Shopping Plaza. & Bumble Bee Plaza

Bumble Bees are not the only insects that enjoy and depend upon the Comfrey flower's nectar.  If you spend time surveilling a Comfrey patch in bloom you will see a large variety of insects partaking in their feeding and gathering  activities. Butterflies and Hummingbirds also enjoy the dainty flowers when the patch is in full bloom.

ECOSYSTEM - Earthworms:

Comfrey provides an underground ecosystem for slugs and earthworms. A fact that I have not seen mentioned anywhere is that earthworms love the twisty, mazelike, roots and hollowed out crevices found in mature roots.. The hollow space are packed with dirt, forming dirt tunnels and caves. just right for an earthworm home and hiding place. This is generally noted in lone standing mature plants which make up Comfrey colonies. This is because the mature roots are plentiful and have spread out and intertwined. Worms also enjoy moving in and out of the base of the stems which are at ground level. Where you find these root structures you will find earthworms. It is my theory that this attraction of earthworms also adds to the soil amendment that comfrey gets sole credit for. Certainly Comfrey's magical powers of delivering super vitamins and minerals from deep beneath the earth are major factors in the rich soil found around Comfrey plants, but let's consider the earthworm in this equation as well.

I have seen so many earthworms living in Comfrey roots that I have coined these additional nick names for Comfrey:

"Earthworm Attractor" and my favorite "Earthworm Hotel". 

The total softening and enrichment of the soil around Comfrey plants does not happen in the plants first season, it comes gradually and with time. It comes with letting the full plant decompose in place over several growing seasons, then you will see the richest soil. The roots will be at their ultimate stage for earthworm attraction at this time as well. There is a lot of activity going into creating the fertile soil found around comfrey, much of which is not visual with a quick glance or assumption. That is why I say "Let's give the 'lowly' (pun intended) earthworm due credit.  Its hard tilling work and castings, which help contribute to, and are a component in, the rich soil found around mature Comfrey, Surely the earthworm deserve our accolades also."


As much as you may disrespect, dislike or hate slugs they are an important part of our ecosystem. They provide food for birds, toads, snakes, other reptiles and small mammals. They are also decomposers, feeding on decomposing plant and animal matter and feces. Their scatt (waste) contributes nitrogen to the soil. They love to curl up and sleep at the base of the Comfrey plant or burrow down to its roots and barrow a worm hole. The  fallen leaves provide a safe, cool and moist sanctuary, and I suppose a bit of dead matter to munch on. They may also munch on a few young leaves. - Don't worry - not enough to cause even a slight bit of damage. The roots are safe as well, no harm caused to the plant.

ECOSYSTEM - Amphibian and Reptile:

The leaves are always largest at the base of the Comfrey plant. These leaves are usually very low on the stem so they create a canopy around the plant circumference. This is the prefect place for amphibians, reptiles and small mammal's to shelter from the heat of the sun or a harsh rain. This area also holds shade and moisture which is important to their bodies. The large, low hanging leaves can provide a quick get away shelter for small mammals being chased by larger ones. For those species who feed on worms, slugs frogs or small mammals the leaves may provide a handy restaurant stop. 


I have coined several new descriptive nicknames for Comfrey. 

Wild Animals that Eat Comfrey: 

I can only speak for my comfrey patches because I have never witnessed any munching in progress. I suspect wild rabbits may have taken a bite or two of the leaves because I have seen nibbles here and there in a colony where I know wild bunnies' hang out. I haven't seen them do so though. I have read deer and other wild herbivores will eat comfrey, My deer don't bother with it. I regularly have deer passing through my yard where there are comfrey colonies. I have not once seen them stop to eat any, nor pay it any attention. Their dining choices are the leaves on the low hanging Locust Tree branches and various unruly weeds. In all my years raising Comfrey I have never seen any damage or destruction to the plants caused by wild animals or any other natural causes that would normally kill most flowers, grasses and weeds. Not sun, draught, wind, minor flooding, an early hard frost, wild animals - - - Nothing. It is pretty indestructible.

Chapter 7


Predators and Pest:

No known insect pest. Deer and wild rabbits may like the younger leaves of Comfrey, but not enough to be a problem. They may nibble a little but then move on to other nearby grasses and leafy plants.


No known diseased. White powdery mildew, (Golovinomyces cynoglossi ~ a species of fungus/ mildew) [ ], will sometimes form on the leaves as the plant matures during the growing season. High humidity in the environment may cause the mildew to form. This mildew is unsightly and scary, but very common and harmless to the Comfrey plant. When this happens it is a sign that it is time to cut the mature plant back to allow its new growth. to thrive New growth happens quickly. Depending on what you are using your comfrey for, and how tall you want it to get, Comfrey may be cut back two to three times or more during one growing season.  Mildew does not effect or show up on the new growth. Mildew is common in Comfrey. Most people use the cut leaves and stems as usual with no problem. I personally have never had the mildew spread to any other plant or vegetable, even with the Comfrey very close by it. ( This mildew is common to plants in the boraginaceae family, ie: Forget Me Nots, so perhaps be careful around plants in this family.) 

Chapter 8


Site and Soil: Loves full sun, but will grow in most areas. Avoid constantly wet areas. May not grow in desert sand conditions.

Plant Spacing:  Approximately 2ft or 3ft. Not fussy. It will find its way. Keep in mind as they mature they will be forming colonies, so allow for new plant growth.

Container Planting:  Comfrey is best planted in an open outdoor bed area. However if, because of lack of space, you want to plant Comfrey in a container choose the largest one you can. Rubber or plastic storage containers or drums of 18 gallons or up would work best per plant. Keep in mind your plant is going to have a massive root system when mature. When the plant matures it will be necessary to divide it so that it does not become rootbound (you'll have a bit of time before that is a problem). Also remember to place drainage holes in the container, As the plant becomes older and is out growing its container the roots may began to find their way through the drainage holes. So if the container is sitting on the bare ground it may plant and establish itself in the soil below. I really advise against container growing for Comfrey. It is one of those plants that keeps coming. When the time comes that you have to divide it you must have a plan of what you will do with the divisions. Simply throwing it out should not be an option because it roots very easily and may plant itself where it is unwanted. . . leading to it becoming a nuisance and being placed on a "bad plant" list as if it were a common weed. Wow, that got heavy.

Water:  If possible keep soil moist, not soaked, for the first couple of weeks after planting, about every two or three days especially during a draught or hot, dry weather. This will help the plant establish it's root system. Comfrey is very hardy and should do well with out all of this attention, but doing so will help strengthen and acclimate the plant to the new soil faster. Planting just before a rain or just after a rain is a great and beneficial time to plant. Some constantly dry locations will require a bit more watering care until fully established.

**Planting Season and temperatures: Approximately April thru early November, depending on when the first deep freeze usually occurs in the planting area. Planting temperatures should be at least 40 degrees overnight and 45 to 50 degrees and up in the day for the first two weeks of the insertion into the ground. Keep moist, but not overly moist, for the first couple of weeks. IN cooler temperatures water during the warm part of the day. If you are not sure about the weather and you have a nice warm sunny window raise the starter plant indoors until warmer spring temperatures return. 

**USDA Growing Zone:  (Varying Opinions)Zone 3 to 9  or Zones 4 to 8  (My Comfrey has done very well in New York State where the temperature has gone as low as about -14 degrees F).

          Find your planting zone.

         The zone chart will open in a new tab.

Care and Upkeep: 

~ Comfrey is a very self sufficient plant which needs little to no care to survive. You can cut the leaves back several times during a growing season, or not. If you don't trim them new leaves will still come and the old ones will wilt down, enriching the dirt around the plant.

~ Watering Comfrey at planting for a week or two will help the plant 'take hold'.  With the exception of the initial planting it does not have special watering needs. Because of its dynamic root depth it is self watering. I have never see any of my comfrey plants( not even the young ones with much shallower roots) wither or die during an extended drought period.

~ You may want to dig Comfrey up if it is spreading out to much in a certain area. But beware, you are going to have to repeat this removal over and over. Because of its massive root system. When you dig it may appear that you have dug the whole root out, but rest assured you haven't. You have only broke into the root, leaving two sides behind to regrow more plants. Rest assured it is coming right back.

~ Help your Comfrey to stabilize when you first plant it and then just sit back, let it grow and watch as it works its magic. 

Chapter 9 


1) Medical Advise Alert:  

None of the information below is meant to take the place of your physician or veterinarian.

*Always consult your physician or your veterinarian before using Comfrey as a medicine. 

2) Oral Medicine Alert:  

Do not consume or use Comfrey as tea, tonic or any other oral medication or food. Comfrey may cause liver damage and death. 

3) Topical Medicine Alert:  

* Do not use Comfrey on broken skin or open wounds.

HINT: if you choose to do so AT YOUR OWN RISK, it is important that you make sure there is no infection present. Comfrey heals so efficiently and quickly that the infection may be sealed inside the body causing further medical complications. Clear all infection before using topically to heal minor cuts and. abrasions. Continue to look for infection throughout the duration of the Comfrey therapy, stopping to clear infection as need.

4) Itch Alert:  

While soft and cute in early stages of growth, the hairs on Comfrey stems and leaves can become very prickly as the plant ages throughout the growing season. If you have sensitive skin it is advisable that you wear gloves and clothing that covers your arms and legs to protect yourself from itching or getting a mild, temporary rash from contact with the hairs. 

5) Mildew Alert:  

White mildew spots on Comfrey is very common. There is no need to panic. Simply cut back the old leaves. New growth will soon appear and will show no signs of the mildew.

6) Planting Alert:  

Remember, Comfrey is special to you. Not everyone wants Comfrey in their yard. Although Bocking 14 has been specially developed to be sterile of seeds, it does however, still spread by root. Its roots act like unruly tentacles that reach out in whichever direction they see fit. It could be twelve inches or it could be several or multiple yards, but none the less it does end up in places other than where you put it. So, keep it away from your neighbors boundary line. On your property do not place it near areas that you would not want it to travel to. And finally, do not plant it on public lands without appropriate authorization.



Comfrey is super easy to grow, grows quickly and is extremely, if not impossible to eradicate. It is a plant that has been around forever. I'll bet dinosaurs use to graze peacefully on its prickly leaves. It has an unbelievable amount of uses and is a joy to view when its flowers are in bloom and the bees are busily buzzing away collecting their nectar. What's not to love about this plant?

My first Comfrey plants were given to me some 43 years ago. There was a colony growing on the side of an old barn located at a wonderful U-Pick Blue Berry Farm where I still love to go pick berries today. I asked the owner/farmer what it was. He told me Comfrey. I knew the name Comfrey because my husband, then boyfriend, was into natural herbs. I had, however never seen a live plant, only dried cut leaves. Back then people drank it. So I thought. . . free comfrey, he ( my boyfriend) can drink as much as he wants. I asked for some. The farmer graciously gave me several plants. He had a kind of amused smile on his face and twinkle in his eye when he said "Yes". As I think back it is probably because he was thinking "Take as much as you want, it's gonna come right back, and back and back. . . ."  Perhaps he also thought that it was a bit amusing that I had unknowingly just adopted a plant that would be with me for life. 

My husband was a person who loved his liquids. He saw Comfrey as a healthy drink he could consume and enjoy without consequence. And that he did. He drank a lot of cold "Ice Tea Comfrey". I also drank it, but no where near as plentiful as he did. I am a person who does not drink nearly as much liquid daily as I should and also I preferred a regular Orange Pekoe Ice Tea. He has since passed away. Let me just say that it was not from any liver or cancer related ailment. Those ailments have never been even a slight part of any health issues he ever had. Nor have I had any of the side effects associated with drinking Comfrey. The old man that my husband use to buy it from (in his late 70's or early 80's), an herbalist and herb farmer, drank it regularly with positive personal testimonies of its beneficial effects on his health.

It is important to note that I am not suggesting that you disregard current findings and drink or eat it. I myself have been scared away from it as a consumable. It is just a curiosity to me though that throughout the ages people around the world have reportedly used and depended on it as a food and as an oral medicine source and that their complete societies or at least families were not decimated. I also ponder about all the over the counter drugs, not to mention all the prescription medications and unhealthy foods additives that have made it past the "the ban". Many products have the potential and have been proven to damage internal organs leading to death, or at the least cause other dangerous life changing side effects. This phenomena leaves me baffled. But who wants to find out the hard way. To be safe - Don't consume it. If you choose to consume it at your own risk, do so responsibly. Do the research. Which Comfrey species is the least potent and do you have access to it? Who should and should not consume it? How much and how frequently should it be consumed? What parts of the plant are least toxic to use?

Throughout the years I have lived with Comfrey. In all those years it has been a soil amender. It has soothed aching muscles and it has healed human family and fur family wounds. (If you use on broken skin or an open wound be sure there is no infection. Clear all infection first as Comfrey accelerates healing process and you may seal infection in, causing greater damage and complications, even death.) It has added to the beauty of the landscape, especially when the cute little lavender flowers (that look like pixies should be sitting atop of them) are in full bloom. I have never regretted one day, bringing this miraculous plant home. Well maybe one time when I put it in a place that I decided I wanted to use for something else. But I only regretted that I had chosen to plant in that location, not that I had bought Comfrey home. It is one of the family now. I'm long over that little planting mistake. I love it where ever it grows - and it can pop up in some unexpected places, a bit further away from the mother than usual. But not to scare you, it usually stays pretty close to mom.

Comfrey has been described as one of the most important and versatile herbs to have in your gardening and lifestyle arsenal. I can attest to this and will always be thankful that I stumbles upon these plants. I will also always remember and be grateful to the Blue Berry Farmer for sharing and who keep tradition alive by knowing and being able to identify the plant.

With that said, help Comfrey keep its good name, reputation and legacy by using it responsively and by putting it where it will not disturb the neighbors or greater community. Not everyone knows or understands the miraculous benefits that Comfrey has to offer and therefore will not welcome its presence. Comfrey is the present that keeps on giving. Once established it, and its offspring, will grace your property for generations to come.

Copyright Information:  

I have made my unique experiences, findings and ideas available to the public to help further the understanding and knowledge of this multifaceted plant. If this information has helped you and / or the plant in any way I am happy and have accomplished my goal.   

This, however, is copyrighted original material. So, Please do not re-blog or share "The Book of Comfrey" in full or in part without using the following citation link :

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© 12-19-2023 Jelani K. Asantewa. Photographs, Diagrams and Copy: All rights reserved.