SOLVED: Unknown plant

Perry, MO(Zone 5a)

My aunt gave this to me, given to her by her brother. He called it a medicine plant. My research seems to be leaning toward some type of comfrey. I would love to know the real name for this plant.

By the way, it is a large plant that I have cut back several times already because it wants to take over my bed. I have dug up it offspring from all areas of the garden. When I dig them up, they have a large white root. As you can see by the picture, there is a flower that has been blooming since the middle of May.


Thumbnail by dwoodhyr

You are right in thinking it may be a comfrey because thats exactly what it is.

Symphytum officionalis is the botanical name for it and it was used in healing broken bones hence one of the common names being Knit-bone. There is a lot of evidence that it works although I don't recommend that you used it without some training in herbs. Recent medical reserch has also found that it heals skin wounds much quicker than any other herb.

The other great thing about comfrey isthe fertiliser it can chop the plant up and place it in the comost bin or as I use a liquid. My method is to chop up the leaves and stems and place it in a bucket with holes in the bottom. I then fill another bucket (which fits the first) with water and place the water bucket on the comfrey bucket...below is a further bucket which collects the black foul smelling liquid. I water down the resultant liquid with 1 part comfrey liquer to 8 parts water. You garden will love it...some also include young nettles into the comfrey mix with excellent results.

Perry, MO(Zone 5a)

Thank you so much!! I love that compost tea can also be made from it! I really appreciate all of your help.


Rethymno, Crete, Greece(Zone 10b)

Hi Baa,

I enjoyed the knit-bine bit. could you please give any more details as to how this plant was used to set broken bones?

many thanks

Hi Dimitri

I used to feed the young leaves to a duck who had broken her leg, which mended in record time.

Comfrey tea used to be made from the leaves and drunk by the person with broken bones and inward bruising, although how this helped I don't know. The rootstock is a little safer however and has been used to gargle with.

NB:(No recommendations from me, I detach myself from advising in medicinal herbs other than their previous uses LOL).

I did know a horse dealer who used to treat wounds on horses legs by smearing comfrey leaves with honey and using that as a poultice, once bandaged, talcum powder was applied to 'Keep the flies away'.

On further reading from an excellent but sadly out of print herb book, they also say it was used to cure digestive trouble, stomach ulcers (used with knotgrass), mouth ulcers, sore throats, gout, inflammations and bronchitis (again in tea form).

Young leaves can also be used as a vegetable when boiled and mixed with butter.


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