Saturday, March 19, 2011

Comfrey

Symphytum

Symphytum ( Comfrey )
Highly ornamental, tough perennials, closely related to Pulmonarias but much taller.
Comfrey grows in full sun or partial shade ( tolerates full shade ) preferring fertile, moist soil though will grow in just about anything. They are deer resistant. They are easy to reproduce from root cuttings. Using this method, in a few years you will be giving away Comfrey plants to the entire neighborhood. Most plants do not reliably form viable seed so propagation from seed is not a reliable form of reproduction. Older clumps can also be divided during autumn. These plants are very long lived and persistant.
Comfrey makes an excellent forage plant and is fed to racehorses to bring them into peak condition. Comfrey is among the best of all plants for the production of plant proteins. An acre of Comfrey yields as much as 6 times as much protein as Soybeans. It has high Vitamin B content ( rare for vegetables ) and is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C as well as Potassium, Phosphorus and Calcium.
The leaves can be used in a green drink or smoothie.
Comfrey plants contain a substance called allantoin which is a cell growth stimulator. Comfrey is excellent for use in stopping bleeding and speeding up the healing of ulcers, burns and wounds. Comfrey juice is beneficial for the skin.
Very productive plants, up to 50 tons of green matter may be produced on an acre in a single season. It can be used for the production of methane with the additional by-product of nitrogen rich fertilizer. The leaves are high in nitrogen content and make a great green manure. The vigorous root system is great for breaking up compacted soils. New home owners can sow a mixture of Comfrey and Clover ( roots fix nitrogen ) to prepare the soil for an outstanding future garden or home farm.

* photos of unknown internet source



Symphytum asperum ( Prickly Comfrey )
A deeply-rooted perennial, reaching a maximum size of 6 x 7 feet, that is native from Turkey to the Caucasus; south to northern Iran. It has naturalized locally in North America to as far north as Juneau, Alaska and Quebec City in Canada.
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves are up to 10 inches in length.
The pale pink aging to blue, tubular flowers are borne in drooping cymes during late spring to late summer.
Hardy zones 4 to 8 ( 3 on protected sites ) in sun or shade on any, deep, fertile, well drained soil.

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


Symphytum azureum
Reaches up to 20 inches x 2 feet, with rich green foliage that is topped in pure blue, bell-shaped flowers.
Hardy zones 4 to 8 in partial to full shade on moist, fertile soil. Tolerant of deep shade.

Symphytum caucasicum ( Blue Comfrey )
A very fast growing to invasive, rhizomatous perennial, reaching a maximum size of 40 x 32 inches, that is native to the Caucasus.
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves, up to 10 ( rarely over 8 ) inches in length, are green.
The tubular, bright blue flowers, up to 0.5 inches in length, are borne in drooping cymes during spring into early summer. It sometimes blooms again during late summer if old flowering stems are deadheaded.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 in partial to full shade on moist, fertile soil.

Symphytum grandiflorum ( Large-Flowered Comfrey )
Also called Symphytum ibericum. A rapid spreading but not invasive, rhizomatous, groundcover perennial, reaching up to 2 x 4 feet, that is native from northeast Turkey to the Caucasus. It spreads underground with stolons.
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves, up to 10 inches in length, are rich deep green.
The foliage is great for forming a weed smothering carpet.
The profuse, creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers, up to 0.6 inches in length, are borne in drooping cymes during mid to late spring.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 in sun or shade, tolerating drought but more vigorous on moist soil. Tolerant of deep shade and dry shade. Propagation is from division during early spring.

* photos taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


Goldsmith'
Reaches up to 3 x 3 feet, with showy, deep green leaves, up to 18 x 6 inches, that are edged in yellow.
The flowers, up to 0.7 inches in length, during late spring into early summer, are pink in bud, opening to white and blue.

'Hidcote Blue'
Blue flowers.

'Hidcote Pink'
Pink flowers.

Symphytum officinale ( Common Comfrey )
A fast growing to invasive, robust perennial, reaching a maximum size of 5 x 7 ( rarely over 4 x 6 ) feet, that is native to France. It has naturalized locally in North America to as far north as Juneau, Alaska and Quebec City, Canada.
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves, up to 10 inches in length, are deep green.
The tubular, yellowish-white, pink or purple flowers are borne in drooping cymes during early summer ( sometimes repeating into early autumn ).
Hardy zones 3 to 8 in partial to full shade on moist, fertile soil. The roots fix their own nitrogen.

* photo taken on May 5 2010 @ McCrillis Gardens, Bethesda, MD


Symphytum orientale
A fast growing to invasive, short-lived, rhizomatous perennial, reaching a maximum size of 28 x 40 inches, that is native to western Asia ( from Turkey to the Caucasus ).
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves, up to 5.5 inches in length, are mid-green.
The tubular, white flowers are borne in drooping cymes during early summer.
Hardy zones 4 to 8 in partial to full shade on moist, fertile soil though tolerant of dry shade. Frequently self seeds.

Symphytum rubrum ( Red Flowered Comfrey )
An excellent, fast growing, groundcover perennial, reaching a maximum size of 1.5 x 2 feet, that is native to Armenia.
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves are deep green.
The tubular, deep red flowers are borne in drooping cymes all summer long.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 in partial to full shade on moist, fertile soil

Symphytum tuberosum
A rhizomatous perennial, reaching a maximum size of 2 x 3.5 feet, that is a widespread native of woodlands and riverbanks in Europe ( from the British Isles to Russia; south to Spain to Turkey ).
The leaves are up to 10 inches in length. The foliage goes dormant during summer.
The pale yellow flowers, up to 0.8 inches in length, are borne during late spring into early summer. Hardy zones 5 to 8 in sun or shade.

Symphytum x uplandicum ( Russian Comfrey )
The very fast growing hybrid between Symphytum asperum & S. officiale, forming a very attractive, huge, rhizomatous perennial, reaching a maximum size of 10 x 6 ( rarely over 7 x 4 ) feet.
The coarse, hairy, elliptical leaves, up to 2 feet in length, are borne on winged stems. The foliage is glossy deep green.
The tubular, rosey-pink ( later turning bluish-purple ) flowers, up to 0.7 inches long, are borne in drooping cymes during early to mid summer.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 ( tolerating as low as -40 F ) in partial to full shade on moist, fertile soil. If foliage looks worn and tired after blooming, cut entire plant to ground and new foliage will appear and lasting until freezing weather occurs later in autumn.

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014


'Axminster Gold'
Shorter in stature ( 4 feet ) but with the same spectacular oversized ( 2 foot ) foliage with a twist - it is boldly margined in creamy-yellow. The bold colorful foliage makes this a great substitute for Hostas where hungry deer abound.

'Variegatum'
Mid green foliage that is edged in creamy-white; it is otherwise nearly identical to the species.
The flowers are purplish-pink.

Trachystemon

Trachystemon orientalis ( Russian Borage )
A relative of the Pulmonarias, forming a very fast growing to invasive groundcover, forming a dense clump, up to 4 x 7 ( rarely over 2 ) feet in size. The Eastern Borage is native to wet deciduous forests from Bulgaria to the western Caucasus.
The hairy, heart-shaped leaves, up to 20 x 12 ( rarely over 12 x 7 ) inches, are deep green.
The purplish-blue, starry flowers, up to 0.7 inches across, are borne on on open sprays on short stalks before the foliage during early spring.
Hardy zones 4 to 8 in sun or shade on just about any soil though preferring moist and humus-rich. It prefers moist shade but will tolerate dry shade making an excellent large scale groundcover for under trees. Propagation is from seed or division while dormant.

* photos of unknown internet source


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