Comfrey

Asked April 25, 2018, 12:16 PM EDT

Why isnt comfrey used more in the US? I have seen this grown as a permaculture item (compost, decorative plant, compost tea, etc) in England, but see little mention of it here. Most gardeners are not familiar with comfrey. I ordered two plants and hope to grow and subdivide them. Is that a good idea here in sw michigan?

Van Buren County Michigan permaculture comfrey

1 Response

Thank you for contacting us. Comfrey can be a highly aggressive plant, difficult to remove and a prolific seeder. For this reason, only the sterile variety Bocking 14 (often called Russian comfrey) should be planted.

As to why it is not used more extensively, I can only suggest the reasons above. The plant may have fallen out of favor as a result of a ban issued by the USDA in 2001. The ban is restricted to comfrey products marketed for internal use, but safety restrictions may be applied more broadly as warnings are circulated through informal channels. You should be aware, however, that comfrey is not considered safe for consumption in any form.

As you suggested, comfrey does have a number of applications, including use as an herbal remedy used for topical treatments of the skin. The sterile variety can serve as an attractive and useful plant.