Monday, 15 August 2011

The Comfrey Cure-all

Russian Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum)
 Comfrey has been used in herbal medicine for hundreds of years, indeed its Latin name Symphytum which derives from the Greek work 'to unite' refers to comfrey's ability to knit together broken skin and tissue.  It is usually the common comfrey that is used for healing purposes.  Russian comfrey is the best type for organic gardeners as it has a much higher potassium content.  It has dark blue/purple flowers and is the real caviar of comfreys.  It should come with a 'Beware' sign, because it is a bit of a thug in the garden, once you have it you will never get rid of it.  Comfrey tea is perhaps the best known use for it.  To make it fill a bucket with the leaves and top up with water.  Leave for three of four weeks (during which time it will smell revolting) when it is ready use the solution, roughly one part to twelve parts water and water with it.  Dont waste the dregs - the remains can be thrown on the compost heap where they aid de-composition.

You can also use the leaves as a mulch or to line your potato and bean trenches.  They may also act as a slug-deterrent placed round vulnerable plants as slugs and snails don't like the hairy leaves.  It is part of the Borage family and in the wild is mainly found on damp grasslands, riverbanks and woodland in Europe.


  1. It's a plant that all gardens and plots should have!
    I've got six which I leave to flower for the bees then cut back and add to the compost heap. I do that several times through the summer. Flighty xx

  2. Do you find that they spread much Flighty, the only way I stopped one plant that was in the wrong place was to put a slab on it.

  3. Oh Elaine! Suddenly, several dozens of your posts came pouring into my google reader. So it looks like your feed is working again :-)

    I like the fact the comfrey deters slugs. We don't have a lot of damp here in So. Cal. though it looks like it can grow in my zone.

  4. I have a couple of comfrey plants nicely established up at the allotment that I should be able to use for a good few feeds next year. Which reminds me, I really must repot the others, they need deep pots for all that root that makes them so hard to get rid of!

  5. I was reading along, and you said comfrey tea, and I was thinking the sort you drink, till you said to leave it for three to four weeks! I almost choked, then figured out you meant tea for the plants!!

  6. Judy - it's not often I laugh first thing in the morning, but your comment about comfrey tea was hilarious.