Sunday, August 2, 2009

Now What Do I Do With It?

This is my beautiful comfrey plant.

Actually this photo is a couple weeks old, and it's rained (a lot) since then, so now it's much bigger.

And it's an herb, and now I have to figure out what to do with it. Especially since it's a perennial, and will be back next year, probably laughing at me, if I can't figure out what it's good for.

So - besides having huge broad leaves, with fuzzy fibers all over them, loving full sun and lots of water - what else do I know about it?

It has beautiful, fairy-like tiny purple flowers.

It grows as a wild-flower in Britain, with a long history of medicinal use.

It is the herb formerly known as knitbone, and modern research has confirmed that it contains allantoin, which speeds up cell replacement and helps with bone injuries and ailments.

Comfrey has been used to treat everything from lung disorders (asthma, bronchitus), to broken bones and sprains, to arthritis and ulcers, as well as burns and acne.

It was also believed at one time that a comfrey bath would repair the hymen, thereby creating born-again virgins. (I wouldn't count on that one too much.)

Internal use (teas and such) is no longer recommended -although I know many who use it for that, but I don't, being the one who prefers to err on the side of caution.

But comfrey salve is wonderful and making your own is easy. (Look for a post shortly on making salve). It can be used on sore muscles, bruises, burns, rashes, etc.

This is what a proper comfrey bed looks, much bigger than my medium-size potted comfrey.The plants can be propagated simply by dividing the clumps (much like daylilies or irises).
It spreads easily and is hard to get rid of (like horseradish).

But if you have one of those proper beds of comfrey, the cut leaves make a great mulch for plants that like a lot of potassium (flowers, fruit or nut-bearing plants, also onions, gooseberries, currants, roses, potatos, tomatos).

The leaves break down into a thick black sludge, and a few added to your compost heap will produce heat, and help the rest of the compost plants decompose.

Or, if you have rain barrels, several comfrey leaves can be added, producing a manure tea after 4-5 weeks.

Such a sweet little plant in a pot, but capable of so many uses.

Look for the comfrey salve post in the next couple days.

1 comment:

  1. Always so interesting to read your blog - and while I'm not a gardener (I have a brown thumb), I love reading about yours.