Photo: Miss Steel (Geograph)
Comfrey is a member of the borage family and has the botanical name of Symphytum officinale. Its common names include: ass-ear, blackwort, bruisewort, healing herb, and knitbone.
This herb was once used medicinally to heal surface sores and broken bones. Comfrey tea was also thought to relieve bronchial disorders, and this plant also contains a substance that is used in ointments to treat psoriasis and other skin problems.
Comfrey was brought to North America by the early settlers and is still cultivated today, but it also grows in the wild. The leaves of the plant are high in protein so have been used to feed livestock.
It grows in wet sites from Newfoundland to Georgia and gets three feet high with coarse hairy stems and leaves. The flowers are pale yellow to purple and appear from May through September in drooping clusters.
The name comfrey may come from the Latin word which means “knitting together” and refers to its use in healing fractures. While it is safe to use externally, modern pharmacists do not recommend the internal use of this herb and suggest users refrain from long term use.