homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Symphytum uplandicum - Nyman.
Common Name Comfrey
Family Boraginaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards This plant contains small quantities of a toxic alkaloid which can have a cumulative effect upon the liver. Largest concentrations are found in the roots, leaves contain higher quantities of the alkaloid as they grow older and young leaves contain almost none. Most people would have to consume very large quantities of the plant in order to do any harm, though anyone with liver problems should obviously be more cautious. In general, the health-promoting properties of the plant probably far outweigh any possible disbenefits, especially if only the younger leaves are used.
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range A hybrid of garden origin, S. asperum x S. officinale[200].
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Symphytum uplandicum Comfrey

Symphytum uplandicum Comfrey
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Symphytum uplandicum is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Gum;  Tea.

Young leaves - cooked or raw[2, 4, 5, 9, 46, 61]. The leaf is hairy and the texture is mucilaginous. It may be full of minerals but it is not pleasant eating for most tastes. It can be chopped up finely and added to salads, in this way the hairiness is not so obvious[183]. Young shoots can be used as an asparagus substitute[46]. The blanched stalks are used[183]. Older leaves can be dried and used as a tea[26]. The peeled roots are cut up and added to soups[183]. A tea is made from the dried leaves and roots[183]. The roasted roots are used with dandelion and chicory roots for making coffee[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Haemostatic;  Refrigerant;  Vulnerary.

Comfrey is a commonly used herbal medicine with a long and proven history in the treatment of various complaints. The root and the leaves are used, the root being more active, and they can be taken internally or used externally as a poultice[4, 222]. Comfrey is especially useful in the external treatment of cuts, bruises, sprains, sores, eczema, varicose veins, broken bones etc, internally it is used in the treatment of a wide range of pulmonary complaints, internal bleeding etc[4, 238, K]. The plant contains a substance called 'allantoin', a cell proliferant that speeds up the healing process[4, 21, 26, 165, 222, 238]. This substance is now synthesized in the pharmaceutical industry and used in healing creams[238]. The root and leaves are anodyne, astringent (mild), demulcent, emollient, expectorant, haemostatic, refrigerant, vulnerary[4, 21, 26, 165, 222]. Some caution is advised, however, especially in the internal use of the herb. External applications and internally taken teas or tinctures of the leaves are considered to be completely safe, but internal applications of tablets or capsules are felt to have too many drawbacks for safe usage[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are harvested in early summer before the plant flowers, the roots are harvested in the autumn. Both are dried for later use[238]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root, harvested before the plant flowers[232]. This has a very limited range of application, but is of great benefit in the treatment of broken bones and eye injuries[232].
Other Uses
Biomass;  Compost;  Gum.

The plant grows very quickly, producing a lot of bulk. It is tolerant of being cut several times a year and can be used to provide 'instant compost' for crops such as potatoes. Simply layer the wilted leaves at the bottom of the potato trench or apply them as a mulch in no-dig gardens. A liquid feed can be obtained by soaking the leaves in a small amount of water for a week, excellent for potassium demanding crops such as tomatoes. The leaves are also a very valuable addition to the compost heap[26, 200]. A gum obtained from the roots was at one time used in the treatment of wool before it was spun[100]. Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1.2 metres apart each way[208].
Cultivation details
Tolerates most soils and situations but prefers a moist soil and some shade[1, 4]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Best grown in an open sunny site in a deep rich soil if it is being grown for compost material[200]. Hardy to about -20°c[187]. A naturally occurring hybrid species (S. asperum x S. officinale), it does not set viable seed and so is not aggressive. The root system is very deep, fragments of root left in the soil can produce new plants. A number of named forms have been selected for their higher production of leaves[183]. Subject to attacks by the rust fungus, this can be alleviated by giving the plants a high potash feed, wood ashes are often used[26].
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. This is a hybrid species that does not usually produce seed. If you have sufficient seed you can try an outdoor sowing in situ in the spring. Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Simply use a spade to chop off the top 7cm of root just below the soil level. The original root will regrow and you will have a number of root tops, each of which will make a new plant. These can either be potted up or planted out straight into their permanent positions.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Symphytum asperumPrickly Comfrey32
Symphytum grandiflorumGround Cover Comfrey, Comfrey00
Symphytum officinaleComfrey, Common comfrey35
Symphytum tuberosumTuberous comfrey20
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Mi Bri Sat Mar 22 2008
Under Edible uses, you only list leaves as edible parts. However, in the text, you describe roots as used in soups
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment/link

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Symphytum uplandicum  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email newsletter. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.