T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Symphytum × uplandicum (Russian Comfrey)

Kingdom: Plantae
Superphylum: Tracheophyta
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class:  Magnoliopsida
Family:  Boraginaceae
Genus:  Symphytum
Species: Symphytum × uplandicum
Scientific name: Symphytum × uplandicum
Common name: Russian Comfrey, Russian Comphrey.

Comfrey is a common name for plants in the genus Symphytum. Symphytum × uplandicum is a hybrid of Symphytum officinale (Common Comfrey) and Symphytum asperum (Rough Comfrey).
It’s a perennial herb in the Borage family with a fleshy root and grows to a height 200 cm. The stem is rough and hairy.
The flowers are bell shaped and can range in colour from red, blue or purple, on rare occasions almost white.
The fruit is a 4-parted schizocarp (dry fruit). The mericarps (parts of the schizocap) are oblique and wrinkled.
The large leaves are alternate, stalked and have blades that are ovate to elliptic with entire margins.
This plant is cultivated but can be feral.

Contemporary herbalists have a mixed view of comfrey. Comfrey 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 it is thought that the health-promoting properties of the plant probably far outweigh any possible disbenefits, especially if only the younger leaves are used.

Russian Comfrey growing roadside.
  

   







The hairy stems.


The leaf.


The leaves underside.