Comfrey

Symphytum officinale

About

Common Comfrey is a hairy plant of damp ground and is often found beside rivers, in fens and ditches, and on roadside verges and waste ground. It displays clusters of bell-shaped pinky-purple flowers from May to July and often grows in clumps. It has become an important plant for organic gardeners as its roots reach deep into the soil making it rich in minerals and its leaves can be used for slug control, as a fertiliser and as a composting aid.

How to identify

The comfreys are a small group, but can be difficult to tell apart from each other as hybrids between species are common. Common Comfrey has large, oval, hairy leaves and clusters of drooping, tubular flowers that are pinky-purple in colour.

Where to find it

Grows all over the UK, but predominantly in England.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July

How can people help

Some of our most abundant species are often treated as 'weeds' when they appear in the garden. Yet they can be extremely beneficial to wildlife - providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts - and also helpful to the gardener; Common Comfrey has many uses, for example. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of clover in your lawn, nettles near the compost heap and Common Comfrey by the pond, and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Comfrey
Latin name
Symphytum officinale
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Height: up to 1m
Conservation status
Common.