Comfrey. Symphytum officinale L.

Figure 42.—Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Other Common Names

Symphytum, healing herb, knitback, ass-ear, back wort, blackwort, bruisewort, gum plant, slippery-root.

Habitat And Range

Comfrey occurs in waste places from Newfoundland to Minnesota and south to Maryland.


This coarse, hairy herb is from 2 to 3 feet high, erect and branched with thick, rough leaves. The lower leaves are 3 to 10 inches long, the upper ones smaller, lance shaped, and stemless. The terminal flower clusters, composed of numerous purplish or dirty white, tubular bell-shaped flowers, are produced from June to August. The nutlets which follow are brown, shining, and somewhat wrinkled. The dried root is very mucilaginous.

Part Used

The root, dug in autumn or in early spring.