Common comfrey

Common Comfrey

©Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

Common Comfrey

©Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

Common comfrey

Scientific name: Symphytum officinale
The drooping, tubular, pink flowers of Common comfrey are a familiar sight to many gardeners. Sometimes considered a 'weed', this hairy plant can be used as an organic fertiliser and a form of slug control.

Species information


Height: up to 1m

Conservation status


When to see

May to July


Common comfrey is a hairy plant of damp ground and is found beside rivers, in fens and ditches, and on roadside verges and waste ground. It often grows in clumps and displays clusters of bell-shaped, pinky-purple flowers from May to July. It has become an important plant for organic gardeners as its roots reach deep into the soil making it rich in minerals, while 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 are common. Common comfrey has large, oval, hairy leaves, and clusters of drooping, tubular flowers that are pinky-purple in colour.


Wdiespread, but most common in England.

Did you know?

Common Comfrey is a popular plant in herbal medicine and is regularly used to treat sprains, bruises and wounds, and to ease the pain of arthritis.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of buttercups in your lawn or nettles near your compost heap, to see who comes to visit? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.