By Gael (Plot 234)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a rough hairy perennial native to Europe and England, which thrives in damp and shady places.
It is a handsome robust plant growing to approximately 80cm with large dark green leaves and usually pink or mauve drooping bell shaped flowers in terminal clusters.
It flowers from Spring to Summer and is most easily planted by root division.
It establishes easily and can become rampant if not checked.
Medicinally it has been an important herb for centuries being a well known remedy in Europe since the Middle Ages.
It can be used as an astringent to arrest bleeding and a poultice made from crushed leaves cleans wounds, reduces swelling and bruising and unites fractured bones, hence its common name knit bone and bruise wort.
Tea made from the leaves is drunk to soothe chest complaints and ease coughs.
The leaves are used in cooking but I have not included recipes as they are said to be carcinogenic (what isn’t these days?) I have eaten the leaves but sparingly.
There has been rigorous debate about this to which you can make your own decision.
The other really important quality comfrey possesses is the valuable addition to the composting process. Being rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphates it has a wonderful ability to rapidly break down other plant material.
Stuff as many leaves as you can fit into a lidded bucket.
Weight with a stone and put lid on.
Leave for 5-6 weeks.
You will have a fabulous foul smelling brown liquid which can be diluted 1/15.
On a personal note, I broke a rib last November and made a poultice of comfrey and chia seeds to thicken it. My ribs healed very quickly but I am not in a hurry to repeat the experiment!