What is Comfrey?
Comfrey is a perennial herb most commonly known for its qualities as a fertilizer and as herbal medicine. Comfrey is known as a dynamic accumulator because of its long tap root and ability to pull nutrients from deep in the soil up into its leaves.
Different varieties of comfrey
Common Comfrey – It is a perennial native to Europe. It is 3 feet tall including the flower stalk. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years by many different cultures. It can be somewhat invasive by spreading viable seeds. The roots are not invasive. True Comfrey seeds germinate quickly, especially on wet soil.
Russian Comfrey – a natural cross between common comfrey and rough comfrey. It grows to 4 feet tall including the flowerstalk. Russian comfrey has purple, white, magenta-pink, red or blue (that fade to pink) flowers. The seeds are not viable. It has to be reproduced by root and crown cuttings. It produces 100-120 tons per acre of biomass per year. This is 3 times the amount that Common Comfrey produces. There are 21 cultivars of Russian Comfrey but #4 and #14 are the most common.
Russian Comfrey Bocking 4 – More commonly used as fodder for feeding livestock. The roots of Bocking 4 go down 8-10 feet which makes is slightly more drought resistant and the leaves are slightly wider than bocking 14.
Russian Comfrey Bocking 14 – This cultivar is more commonly used as a fertilizer because of its more narrow leaves which break down slightly faster, although both 4 and 14 are very similar and can be used as both fodder and fertilizer. The roots of 14 go down 6-8 feet which is a little less than Bocking 4. Bocking #14 Comfrey is more rust resistant than #4. Rust is a fungal disease though disease is very rare in all comfrey. It has an NPK ratio of 1.8 / 0.5 /5.3 and dried comfrey leaves contain 26% protein. Also Comfrey is the only plant known to harvest vitamin B-12 from the soil.
10 Ways To Use Comfrey On The Homestead
Chop and Drop
Fresh Livestock Feed
Dried Livestock Feed
Warning: Don’t use comfrey on deep wounds as it can heal the skin to quickly aiding in possible infection.Internal useWarning: In 2001, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a ban of comfrey products marketed for internal use, and a warning label for those intended for external use. In addition to restrictions on oral use, some experts recommend applying comfrey extracts no longer than 10 days in a row, and no more than 4–6 weeks a year.