WSU Clark County Extension

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Common Comfrey

Scientific name: Symphytum officinale

Type:Herbaceous perennials
Plant Requirements
Zone:3 to 9
Sun:Full sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:5 ft
Width:5 ft
Bloom:Summer flowers
Bloom Time:June to September
Bloom Color:Purple
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Common Comfrey is best known as culinary herb used to make teas and poultices out of its leaves. It is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins and trace elements.

This herbaceous perennial can grow to 5’ in both height and width at maturity. It bears bristly lower leaves , up to 12 inches long, that are attached to winged leaf stalks (petioles) that emerge from the base of the plant. Towards the top of the plant the leaves are smaller. While they are still bristly they lack the petioles as seen on the lower portions of the plants.

Flowers are borne on 2’-3’ tall flowering stems. Flowers are bell shaped and either yellow or blue. They form in distinctive curled clusters having an appearance similar to that of a scorpion's tail. The flowers are ½” long and bell shaped. Flower color depends on variety and can be either pink fading to blue, white or creamy yellow.
Reproduction is by way of seeds. Also, new plants can be propagated by dividing the roots of established plants.

All parts of common comfrey contain toxic alkaloids. Roots appear to be more toxic than stems and leaves. Repeated ingestion can lead to serious liver damage and death.

Grow Common Comfrey in full sun or partial shade in hot climates. It is easily adaptable to many soils, but prefers those which are moist and fertile. Take care in planting Common Comfrey as it is considered an invasive plant in the eastern U.S. There is widely found in meadows and waste places. Here on the West Coast Comfrey does not seem to spread outside of the garden.

None reported on the West Coast.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234