Symphytum officinale is a perennial flowering plant of the genus Symphytum in the family Boraginaceae. Along with thirty four other species of Symphytum, it is known as comfrey. To differentiate it from other members of the genus Symphytum, this species is known as common comfrey or true comfrey. Other English names include Quaker comfrey, cultivated comfrey, boneset, knitbone, consound, and slippery-root. It is native to Europe and it is known elsewhere, including North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a weed. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees.
The plant was rated in fourth place for per day nectar production per flower in a UK plants survey conducted by the AgriLand project which is supported by the UK Insect Pollinators Initiative. When number of flowers per floral unit, flower abundance, and phenology were taken into account it was the only member of the top 10 list for that measurement that also placed in the top 10 list for most nectar per unit cover per year. This means that this plant not only produces a great deal of sugar in its nectar on a daily basis, it provides a lot of nectar when compared to other UK plants tested in that survey on a yearly basis, making it a strong source of nectar overall.
The hardy plant can grow to a height of 1.3 m (4 ft).
Symphytum officinale roots have been used in the traditional Balkan medicine internally (as tea or tincture) or externally (as ointment, compresses, or alcoholic digestion) for treatment of disorders of the locomotor system and gastrointestinal tract. The leaves and stems have also been used for the treatment of the same disorders, and additionally also for treatment of rheumatism and gout.
Comfrey has been used in folk medicine as a poultice for treating burns and wounds. However, internal consumption, such as in the form of herbal tea, is discouraged, as it has been highly debated about whether it can cause serious liver damage.
- "Symphytum officinale". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
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- "Symphytum officinale". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 1 January 2018.
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- "Which flowers are the best source of nectar?". Conservation Grade. 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
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- Oberlies, Nicholas H; Kim, Nam-Cheol; Brine, Dolores R; Collins, Bradley J; Handy, Robert W; Sparacino, Charles M; Wani, Mansukh C; Wall, Monroe E (2007). "Analysis of herbal teas made from the leaves of comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Reduction of N-oxides results in order of magnitude increases in the measurable concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids". Public Health Nutrition. 7 (7): 919–24. doi:10.1079/phn2004624. PMID 15482618.
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- Jepson Manual Treatment
- Medicinal Plants for Livestock
- Washington Burke Museum
- Symphytum officinale in the CalPhotos Photo Database, University of California, Berkeley
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