Symphytum officinale

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Symphytum officinale
Symphytum officinale 01.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Boraginales
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Symphytum
Species:
S. officinale
Binomial name
Symphytum officinale
Synonyms
  • Symphitum officinale (orth.var.)

Symphytum officinale is a perennial flowering plant 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[1] or true comfrey.[2] Other English names include Quaker comfrey, cultivated comfrey,[2] boneset, knitbone, consound, and slippery-root.[3] It is native to Europe, growing in damp, grassy places. It is locally frequent throughout Ireland and Britain on river banks and ditches. It occurs elsewhere, including North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a weed. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees.[4]

Description[edit]

The hardy plant can grow to a height of 1.3 m (4 ft). It is a perennial herb with a black, turnip-like root and large, hairy broad leaves that bears small bell-shaped flowers of various colours, typically cream or purplish, which may be striped.

A common hybrid is formed between Symphytum officinale and S. asperum, Symphytum × uplandicum, known as Russian comfrey, which is widespread in the British Isles, and which interbreeds with S. officinale. Compared to S. officinale, S. × uplandicum is generally more bristly and has flowers which tend to be more blue or violet.[5]

Uses[edit]

In folklore, Symphytum officinale roots were used in traditional medicine internally (as an herbal tea or tincture) or externally (as ointment, compresses, or alcoholic digestion) for treatment of various disorders.[6] Internal consumption is discouraged it may be toxic to the liver.[7]

Ecology[edit]

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.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Symphytum officinale". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b Bareeba, F. B.; Odwongo, W. O.; Mugerwa, J. S. "The potential of Russian comfrey (Symphytum officinale) as an animal feedstuff in Uganda". Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations.
  3. ^ "Symphytum officinale". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ Van Der Kooi, C. J.; Pen, I.; Staal, M.; Stavenga, D. G.; Elzenga, J. T. M. (2015). "Competition for pollinators and intra-communal spectral dissimilarity of flowers". Plant Biology: 56–62. doi:10.1111/plb.12328.
  5. ^ Stace, Clive (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (3rd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-70772-5{{inconsistent citations}}, p. 557
  6. ^ Vogl, Sylvia; Picker, Paolo; Mihaly-Bison, Judit; Fakhrudin, Nanang; Atanasov, Atanas G.; Heiss, Elke H.; Wawrosch, Christoph; Reznicek, Gottfried; Dirsch, Verena M.; Saukel, Johannes; Kopp, Brigitte (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Which flowers are the best source of nectar?". Conservation Grade. 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2017-10-18.

External links[edit]