Comfrey Identification

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wahine_palehua
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:18 pm

Comfrey Identification

Postby wahine_palehua » Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:22 pm

Aloha, I have been using comfrey to make salve and treat injuries topically for decades. I have had it growing in my garden for as long as I have had a garden and consider it to be one of my strongest green allies (perhaps THE strongest). So when I started drinking nourishing herbal infusions of course I started harvesting and drinking comfrey from my garden. But the other day when I was listening to the podcast I heard Susun describe the difference between wild comfrey (which should not be ingested because of liver damaging constituents) and cultivated comfrey which is safe to ingest and I realized that I am not at all certain that the comfrey in my garden is the cultivated kind! I moved a year ago and brought comfrey with me from my old garden. It has just flowered for the first time and the flowers are a light purple color. If I can figure out how to share a photo here I will. I'd be grateful for any help anyone here can give me with identification. If I have to acquire another comfrey variety I'd like to know.

Herbnut
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:47 pm

Re: Comfrey Identification

Postby Herbnut » Sun Oct 02, 2016 3:49 pm

You can sign up with http://imgur.com/, I am not sure what kind I have, but I eat it in salads and drink it in tea, make my salves.
WiseGuy

NateFlory
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:47 am

Re: Comfrey Identification

Postby NateFlory » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:14 am

The lovely tall Purple flowering variety is GoodMedicine. :)
Here's Susun's words on it, from the article linked....


http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/J ... ewoman.htm

Every time I mention comfrey, someone asks if it isn't "unsafe." When I identify with comfrey, I feel like a persecuted witch wrongly accused of evil-doing. Comfrey has so much to offer as an aid to health and healing. How did such a wonderful green ally come to have such a terrible reputation?

Perhaps it starts with confusion, aided by imprecise language. There are two species of comfrey: wild comfrey, Symphytum officinale, and cultivated comfrey, Symphytum uplandica x. (The "x" means it is a hybrid, a cross.) Wild comfrey (S. off.) is a small plant--up to a meter tall--with yellow flowers. Cultivated comfrey (S. uplandica x.) is a large plant--often surpassing two meters--with blue or purple flowers.

Everyone I know grows uplandica and that is what is sold in stores. But gardeners and herbal sellers alike usually mislabel it, causing no end of confusion.

To complicate the situation even more: the roots and the leaves of comfrey contain different constituents. Comfrey roots, like most perennial roots, contain poisons. Wild comfrey (officinale) leaves have some of the same poisons. But cultivated comfrey (uplandica) leaves don't.

How can I be so sure that cultivated comfrey is safe to consume internally? Three things have convinced me.

• One: An herbal group that I belong to sent three samples of comfrey leaf (one from the west coast, one from the east coast, and one from the Rocky Mountains) to a lab to be tested for the problematic alkaloids; they found none.

• Two: During the second World War, an Englishman named Henry Doubleday devoted himself to hybridizing comfrey and making it safe to eat as a cooked green. His crosses--sterile hybrids that don't produce seeds--are what we grow in our gardens. And several generations of comfrey-eaters at his research station have no comfrey-related health problems.

• Three: I have drunk a quart or more of comfrey infusion once or twice a week for twenty years with no problems.

Herbnut
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:47 pm

Re: Comfrey Identification

Postby Herbnut » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:54 pm

NateFlory wrote:

• Two: During the second World War, an Englishman named Henry Doubleday devoted himself to hybridizing comfrey and making it safe to eat as a cooked green. His crosses--sterile hybrids that don't produce seeds--are what we grow in our gardens. And several generations of comfrey-eaters at his research station have no comfrey-related health problems.


Mine does go to seed, is that ok?
WiseGuy

wahine_palehua
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:18 pm

Re: Comfrey Identification

Postby wahine_palehua » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:25 pm

OK! So what I take from this wonderful conversation (thank you all for your replies!) is this: While there are some details that leave me a little unclear as to the exact identification of my comfrey, the flowers are certainly NOT cream or whitish yellow and this plant has been my dear friend and ally for decades and I have not noticed any ill effects since I have begun drinking it in infusions. SO I will trust her and my intuition and keep drinking it. Mahalo nui from Hawaii.


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