February Newsletter 2009

Hello everyone & welcome to February’s newsletter, we hope it finds you warm and healthy and ready for the Spring!

I thought I’d talk about a plant that is both useful for health and garden. Our common Comfrey plant or, to use its Latin name Symphytum officinale, is a valuable addition to any garden. In the wild it generally loves watery places, ditches or river banks. A hardy perennial that I have seen grow to 5 ft high. It has lance-shaped, rough green leaves, hollow stems and beautiful purple or cream flowers that grow in clusters along the stem. It has a long tap root which takes beneficial nutrients from the soil. It can often be confused with plants that have similar hairy leaves, like borage and alkanet, which are of the same family but have very different star-like flowers. It is important to establish the key identifying factors of comfrey before progressing to gathering and harvesting.

Comfrey Plant

Traditional names for comfrey are knitbone and boneset, and it does exactly that! Its effect is on the connective tissue, the ligaments and muscles of the body, to repair, regenerate or bring together any damage. It accelerates the growth of new cells so it is really useful for all sorts of wounds, sprains, strains, broken bones and bruising.

Comfrey is a great plant to make preparations from. Prepare from the leaf or root but use externally only unless prescribed by a qualified herbalist.

Harvest the fresh leaf in Spring or Autumn and dry immediately in an airing cupboard. The dried product should still look green yet crispy. The leaf can then be infused in an oil or made into a balm.

Organic Comfrey Oil

Harvest and wash the fibrous root in the Autumn of its second year. Cut them into smaller pieces and dry them in the airing cupboard. A comfrey oil can be made by infusing the root in an oil.

Comfrey is one of our greatest plants for musculo-skeletal conditions and a useful addition to any first aid kit.

Comfrey Cream

Now to benefitting the garden...
Comfrey leaf is rich in potassium, calcium, iron, silica and manganese. The leaves can be harvested throughout the season for a nutritious liquid fertiliser or an important addition to your compost heap.
Make liquid fertiliser by packing the leaves in a bucket of water and leaving for 3 weeks. Very smelly but your plants will love it! Comfrey can be added to a compost heap as a natural compost accelerator. The leaves rot down, release heat and valuable minerals whilst killing weed seed.
Comfrey is an important yet undervalued plant.

So look after your comfrey and it will look after you!

That's all for now....