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Comfrey- The WONDER Plant

 
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Comfrey surrounding the pond off our Ferrocement Patio

Ok people, so if you haven't heard of Comfrey you are in for a serious TREAT!
INTRODUCING, the much coveted and sought after…

Russian Comfrey BOCKING #4!

Why Bocking #4, when there are 21 varieties of Comfrey? First off, it's some of the EASIEST greenery on the planet to grow- You can't really kill it (which is why you DON”T want the varieties that propagate from seed!) But honestly, why would you want to get rid of a plant that is a Beautiful Landscaper (complete with pretty purple flowers mid-season), the first to leaf out after winter and the last to fade at summer's end, EXTREMELY hardy, UNBELIEVABLY USEFUL, drought resistant, can be planted from any piece of root or crown cutting and harvested several times throughout the season yet quickly replenish itself!? Also, unlike wild and common Comfrey, Bocking #4 is a domesticated, non-invasive variety. But what you REALLY need to know is what this plant can DO FOR YOU!

*Right about here I'm obligated to tell you that… I'm NOT a Medical Doctor (..as IF you thought I WAS) no, I'm just the mother of 8 healthy kids. I am *required by law to tell you that my statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease for you, but rather, to inform you what this plant is capable of and some common forms of application. Don't mistake the “slow action” of herbs for “no action” (when you consider that herbal treatments are HEALING your body- not just masking symptoms, it's easy to understand that they are MUCH FASTER ACTING UPON YOUR HEALTH THAN DRUGS). *This is an FDA required disclaimer.



FIRST, SOME FACTS:

-It's an excellent landscaping plant (if you harvest when mature and allow it to re-grow), can be helpful with erosion control, is EXTREMELY drought resistant, with roots 8-10′ deep.
-This natural hybrid is an extremely low-maintenance crop, resistant to rust and has very few problems with pests or disease.
-Perenial in USDA Zones 2-9. Originating in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, it is cold hardy to -40, and can survive up to 120 degrees.
-Seeds are sterile and it does not send out invasive runners. (It will eventually widen and propagate new plants around an established plant- which can be divided to replant elsewhere.)
-You can replicate and divide from any single, 1″ piece of root or crown (crown pieces will leaf out faster than root pieces) and it can be planted ANY TIME the ground is not frozen! (For real- just stick a piece in the ground a couple inches below the surface and it will grow!). 1 caveat- it can take full sun, and is shade tolerant, but needs some sun to thrive.

FODDER & FERTILIZER

The non-invasive varieties that are low in Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PA’s), can be extremely useful as fodder & fertilizer. For a complete summary on the many Uses of Comfrey as Fodder & Fertilizer, read here...

MEDICINAL

A WORD OF CAUTION: Bocking #4 is the only variety I would use for medicinal purposes (as well as forage) because of the low to nearly non-existent level of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in the leaves.Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids may be damaging to your liver.

-The many varieties of Comfrey have been used for centuries to treat a variety of pain and inflammation related issues including muscle, joint, ligament & tendon problems, inflammation, bruises, skin ulcerations, wounds, burns, eczema, psoriasis, bees stings, spider bites (including brown recluse) staph infections, bedsores, tumors, shingles, athlete's foot, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, varicose veins, gout, sprains, strains, and bone fractures.
For more on the External & Internal Uses & Applications of Comfrey...

WHAT MAKES COMFREY SUCH AN EFFECTIVE HEALER?
Comfrey contains a special substance called allantoin, which is a cell proliferative. In other words, it makes cells grow faster. This is one of the reasons why comfrey-treated bones knit so fast, wounds mend so quickly and burns heal with such little scarring. Additionally, it is rich in calcium salts, mucopolysacharrides and calcium, all of which encourage rapid growth of cells and tissue repair. The qualities of these elements that regenerate cells also serve to neutralize the cell-inhibiting action of the Pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Allantoin, the same substance that helps to regenerate cells, is found in the placenta of a pregnant mother which helps the baby grow rapidly. After the baby is born, allantoin is also found in the mother's milk — abundantly at first and less so as the child grows.

WARNING

The biggest issue with Comfrey is the possible presence of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PA’s) which may be toxic to the liver, and it is important to note that the various strains of Comfrey differ GREATLY in the amounts of PA's they contain! All Comfrey has been labeled unsafe for internal use by the Federal Drug Administration. For more on the controversial USDA studies and possible negative side effects of Comfrey...

RECOMMENDATIONS & TIPS

-Topical application of comfrey can actually cause a wound or puncture to heal so quickly on the outside, that you have to be careful that it was well cleaned or debris and bacteria could be trapped inside causing infection.
-Internal use of comfrey tea should be guaranteed pyrrolizidine-free. I am personally limiting my intake of Comfrey to Medicinal rather than food substance.
-The root contains 10-1000 times more Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids than the leaves (depending on the strain).
-As always: Do your own research!

WHERE TO GET LIVE BOCKING # 4 COMFREY ROOT?
►RIGHT HERE!← (includes shipping & money back guarantee to leaf out)

SMALL ROOT CUTTING- 10/ $20.00, about 2″- 3″, LARGE ROOT CUTTINGS- 6/$18.00, about 3″- 4″, CROWNS DIVISIONS- 3/$18.00.
These can be planted in spring, summer and early fall.

Planting stock is shipped via U.S. Mail. ALL plants are non-GMO & pesticide free and come with our money back guarantee to leaf out.
Tip: If you're trying to propagate new roots, one awesome way to do it is put a comfrey plant in a milk crate container, set it on the ground until the plant is established, then pull it off the ground, leaving lots of new little roots in the row.
 
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good post! i have a row of bocking #14 comfrey planted under my 50ft. red pines. very few weeds even grow under there as its heavily shaded. the comfrey are 2 yrs old and grew 3ft tall this summer! not as quick growing as in a sunny area but im surprised it grew that much! stuffs as tough as nails! love it!
 
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Tip: If you're trying to propagate new roots, one awesome way to do it is put a comfrey plant in a milk crate container, set it on the ground until the plant is established, then pull it off the ground, leaving lots of new little roots in the row.



Thanks for that excellent idea.
 
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Mike Barkley wrote:

Tip: If you're trying to propagate new roots, one awesome way to do it is put a comfrey plant in a milk crate container, set it on the ground until the plant is established, then pull it off the ground, leaving lots of new little roots in the row.



Thanks for that excellent idea.



I don't get the suggestion. A Comfrey is mostly one single taproot, not sure how you get multiple little roots in the row

But I am ready to be educated :)

M
 
Mike Barkley
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I think the key word is mostly. Comfrey will easily propagate from an inch of any part of the root. They do have smaller roots in addition to the main root.

Here is another good comfrey thread.
 
gardener
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While comfrey has a deep tap root (or often multiple tap roots that go vertically down into the ground), there are also multiple side roots that will grow into a new plant if the main crown is dug out.  I know this well from experience.  :>)  It's really tough to get rid of comfrey by digging it out.

The easiest way to propagate new plants is to break off a chunk of root and drop it into the soil.  One healthy, full-grown comfrey plant will give you at least 50 or more root cuttings to propagate.  

Yes, you can cut a hole in the bottom of a pot containing a comfrey plant, move the pot to a location where you want a comfrey plant, leave the pot there for 5 months and let the plant root itself down into the soil, pull the pot away and let those newly established roots grow into a new plant . . . but that's a lot of work and you'll just get one new plant out of the whole song-and-dance.

MUCH much easier to just plant root cuttings.

Lets do the math on root cuttings.

Year 1:  You plant one small root cutting and within a year it becomes a full-grown comfrey plant.  Now you have 1 plant.
Year 2: You dig up that plant and cut the crown into 50 new root cuttings. You plant those cuttings. Now you have 51 plants (because something will come up where you dug that first plant out of the ground).
Year 3: You dig up those 51 plants and cut those crowns in 50 new root cuttings each.  You plant said cuttings.  Now you have 2250 comfrey plants.  Your neighbors start to wonder what the hell is going on over there.
Year 4:  The men in white coats come to take you away, but not before you've planted over 100,000 new cuttings.  As they shove you in to the back of a white van, you are heard screaming in a maniacal laughing voice, "Comfrey!  No one can stop me now!  It's a Wonder Plant, I tell you!  Bwahh haa haa!"
 
steve bossie
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LOL ! guess we will share a padded room! ;)
 
Maarten Smet
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"MUCH much easier to just plant root cuttings."

That is my experiece as well, just wondered if I was missing an easier way to propagate.

M
 
Mike Barkley
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That sounds like the perfect way to get the full effect of Amanda Launchbury-Rainey's method of rolling around nekkid to see if it's the prickly variety or not:)     (from the other thread)
 
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Unfortunately I did manage to kill my bocking #14 comfrey. Was doing really good potted after removing from ground when I moved. Put it in the ground here at our new place not realizing yet that the area was gonna be flooded by rain a week later. It root rotted fairly quickly and I was very sad to loose it. It was something we use regularly as a topical healing agent.
 
steve bossie
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Derrick Clausen wrote:Unfortunately I did manage to kill my bocking #14 comfrey. Was doing really good potted after removing from ground when I moved. Put it in the ground here at our new place not realizing yet that the area was gonna be flooded by rain a week later. It root rotted fairly quickly and I was very sad to loose it. It was something we use regularly as a topical healing agent.

Derrick, i have tons. could dig and send you a root if you want one?
 
Derrick Clausen
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That'd be awesome! I can pay you for it plus the shipping too. Think I should have enough in PayPal if you have that.
 
steve bossie
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no worries man. i even saved a few small usps boxes to send stuff like that in. give me your address and il have them out this afternoon. ill give you enough for a good patch. i have 1 thats getting too close to my apple so it needs a good cutting anyway.
 
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I planted my first group in a circle around an apple tree as part of a guild 5 or 6 years ago.  When Comfrey gets bigger, the stalks tip over if they grow too tall before you cut them.  I let lots of mine grow up because Bumble Bees love the flowers.  The plants around my apple year grew to almost 7 feet this year.  They didn't tip over because the apple tree supported to tall stalks.  It was great.  You could only see the top of the apple tree sticking out of a sea of Comfrey :)  
 
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What is the best way to start growing comfrey?  Buy a plant or seed?
 
Derrick Clausen
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Thank you Steve for the roots/crowns! They came yesterday and will be planted today. Been contemplating where to place them. Definitely very awesome of you!

 
Trace Oswald
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Tara Ba wrote:What is the best way to start growing comfrey?  Buy a plant or seed?



See Marco's excellent post above.
 
steve bossie
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Derrick Clausen wrote:Thank you Steve for the roots/crowns! They came yesterday and will be planted today. Been contemplating where to place them. Definitely very awesome of you!

youre welcome! in your enviroment put them in some afternoon shade. they should do well for you.
 
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Oooooh these are some gorgeous looking plants! I definitely wanted a variety that wasn't spread by seed, but I didn't know there even WAS a variety with lower PA's!
 
steve bossie
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watch out Alexis! comfrey planting is highly addicting! once you have a few , then you want to cover the world in comfrey! ;) contact me in mid may and ill dig and send you some root cuttings. you should be able to harvest the leaves year round in your climate. i would plant in 12in. mounds to help in drainage so your cuttings don't rot. some afternoon shade will be needed because above 90f they will wilt and stop growing.
 
steve bossie
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Tara Ba wrote:What is the best way to start growing comfrey?  Buy a plant or seed?

root cuttings work best. this hybrid comfrey has sterile seeds.
 
Alexis Richard
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steve bossie wrote:watch out Alexis! comfrey planting is highly addicting! once you have a few , then you want to cover the world in comfrey! ;) contact me in mid may and ill dig and send you some root cuttings. you should be able to harvest the leaves years round in your climate. i would plant in 12in. mounds to help in drainage so your cuttings don't rot. some afternoon shade will be needed because above 90f they will wilt and stop growing.



Oooh good to know! I'm usually lucky enough to have a good bit of rain to offset that crazy heat, but the last few years have been scorchers and dry as the desert. I'll definitely send you a message mid-may, thank you!
 
steve bossie
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your welcome. you will need to water during those hot dry times. after they are a few years old they usually can fend for themselves as long as you get adequate rain. put 3-4in of wood mulch around them to keep the soil cooler.
 
Mike Barkley
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I tried not to look. Really. But it's comfrey!!! What's not to like?
 
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I have never grown comfry but after reading this I think I will give it a try.
 
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I think some caution is necessary with the comfrey enthusiasm. I planted masses of the recommended strain under citrus and avocado trees for a self-perpetuating living mulch/fert source. Sounded like a good idea at the time.  10 years on it is all gone, just died away. I dug some up to see the amazing root system, it went down about 3 inches with a few wispy roots down a foot or two.  I dug some out with the excavator, shallow roots, and  nothing down deep. This is not a soil issue, even notoriously shallow rooted perennial ryegrass and white clover where rooting much deeper in the same soil. I used it in liquid and found the results less than fantastic, much better growth came from using Albizia tree leaf tea for example. Basically I found the hype totally out of proportion to the reality; yes it is a useful permaculture plant, but nothing like the wonder plant it is claimed to be.
 
Deedee weston
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thanks for the honest reply
 
steve bossie
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Ben Waimata wrote:I think some caution is necessary with the comfrey enthusiasm. I planted masses of the recommended strain under citrus and avocado trees for a self-perpetuating living mulch/fert source. Sounded like a good idea at the time.  10 years on it is all gone, just died away. I dug some up to see the amazing root system, it went down about 3 inches with a few wispy roots down a foot or two.  I dug some out with the excavator, shallow roots, and  nothing down deep. This is not a soil issue, even notoriously shallow rooted perennial ryegrass and white clover where rooting much deeper in the same soil. I used it in liquid and found the results less than fantastic, much better growth came from using Albizia tree leaf tea for example. Basically I found the hype totally out of proportion to the reality; yes it is a useful permaculture plant, but nothing like the wonder plant it is claimed to be.

its a cold weather plant. the colder it is the tougher and better it grows. probably heat that weaken it. it is the 1st plant growing out of the snow herein the spring and the last one growing as the snow falls in early winter.  i have heavy rocky clay soil that kills fruit trees if i plant directly in it. comfrey grows right through that and thrives in it. one spot in my yard is under water for 3 weeks in the spring. as the water starts to come down the comfrey there starts to put out leaves. its one tough plant if grown in the right climate.
 
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Ben, you might have had another kind of comfrey, i got a creeping one with whitish flowers, which is rooting shallow. Anyway i want to give a shout out to another comfrey, one that does creep as well, the rough comfrey. It is so amazing. It doesn't root as deep as my bocking type comfreys, but it is so vigorous and lush around this time(may) it is unbelievable the amount of different bees come for it's flowers. I saw big black wood bees this afternoon on it, bumbly ones with yellow buds, grey silvery ones, tiny ones ,big ones. I noticed where i heavily planted them it just raises the soil by 5cm , 2 inches in a couple of years. Major, major bee plant. I keep it  at and in the hedge and take the ones growing into the grass out once a year, enough to make another patch. And i keep it in the hedge by mowing the grass, it won't really grow into the grass then. My neighbors where it spread to, ignoring the fence, imagine my shock(!!!) don't do anything against it, i am observing what it is doing there and oh boy, they are getting a lot of comfrey. Sometime i hear people talking about comfrey that has seeds that birds eat and spread, i feel sorry for the people who own that.
I've read an article in the Guardian about icomfrey where they claimed it had average growth and spreadrange. Somebody in the comments replied furiously"What do you mean average spreading, i bought a bit last year it ate the fucking cat, that's how fast it spreads and grows!" I guess it all depends what kind of comfrey you get. Wikipedia claims 35 species.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphytum

 
Trace Oswald
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This comfrey plant is three years old,  and came up this year a month or so ago. I could easily get 200 new plants from it.
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Comfrey
 
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