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Comfrey’s Latin name is rooted in the Greek word sympho, meaning “to make grow together.” This refers to its traditional use in speeding the healing of fractures. The plant’s ability to alleviate pain and inflammation is also legendary; it works well on cuts, scrapes, insect bites, burns, and rashes, too.
Parts Used: Leaves and roots
Precautions: Comfrey contains natural insect-repelling pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can be carcinogenic and cause liver damage when the plant is overused internally. Infants and children are most susceptible; use your best judgment when determining whether to take comfrey internally or to reserve it for external use.
Identifying/Growing: An herbaceous perennial, comfrey is native to Europe but is easy to grow in partial shade throughout temperate towarm climates. Mature plants attain impressive sizes of 3 to 6 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide. Comfrey’s tiny hanging clusters of pink, violet, or cream-colored flowers rise up from coarse, hairy stems that bear large leaves. The herb is so large that you might think it’s a shrub; however, the stems never become woody, and the entire plant dies back in winter. Comfrey can be grown from seed, but it’s far easier to cultivate via root cuttings, which should be planted horizontally at a depth of about 3 inches and spaced approximately 3 feet apart. It thrives in rich, organic soil with plenty of nitrogen. Composting annually will help you get the best possible harvest. You can cut and dry the leaves anytime after the plants reach a height of 2 feet.