Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Symphytum Tuberosum

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Symphytum tuberosum (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Symphytum tuberosum (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 60m

Eventual Spread: 60cm

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Family: Boraginaceae

Symphytum tuberosum is a deciduous herbaceous perennial herb with a spreading habit. Its mid-green basal leaves are petiolate to ovate with entire margins, hairy, up to 60cm long and 20cm broad. Its upper stem leaves are smaller and its stems are erect. Its white/ cream hermaphrodite flowers are bell shaped, pendulous, produced at the ends of its stems and up to 16mm long. Its fruit is in the form of four grey/ brown nutlets. Its roots are tuberous which aids its spread.

Symphytum tuberosum Flower (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Symphytum tuberosum Flower (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Symphytum tuberosum, commonly known as Comfrey, Tuberous Comfrey, is native to central and southern Europe, it is thought to have been introduced in the UK. In its native habitat it grows in damp grassy places, ditches, river banks and and the margins of deciduous woodlands. It has been used historically as a poultice to treat burns and broken bones.

The etymological root of the binomial name Symphytum is derived from the Greek sumfuton ’to grow together’, as named by Pliny. Tuberosum is derived from the Latin meaning ‘tuberous’.

The landscape architect may find Symphytum tuberosum useful in a native wildlife gardens due to its attractiveness to pollinating insects. This perennial may spread aggressively given the right conditions.

Ecologically, Symphytum tuberosum is attractive to pollinating insects.

Symphytum tuberosum Leaf (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Symphytum tuberosum Leaf (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Symphytum tuberosum prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It prefers moist soils.

Symphytum tuberosum requires little maintenance. This plant propagates easily from root cuttings.

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