Symphytum officinale

Scientific Name Symphytum officinale L.
Common Names English: Common comfrey; German: Echter Beinwell, Gemeiner Beinwell; French: Consoude; Spanish: Consuelda
Description Robust, taprooted perennial 30-120 cm (11.81 - 47.24 inch) tall, often with several clustered stems. Stem and flower cluster with spreading or bent back, stiff hairs.

Descriptions

Characteristic Features

Leaves covered by stiff hairs, lanceolate.

Young Plant

Cotyledons elliptic or ovate, rounded tip, more or less stalked. Leaves entire, elliptic or ovate, regularly dentate.

Cotyledons

Elliptic or ovate, rounded tip, more or less stalked.

Stems

50-100 cm (19.68 - 39.37 inch), simple to branched, sharp-bristly.

Leaves

Large, the basal ones stalked, with ovate or lance-ovate blade mostly 15 - 30 cm (5.9 - 11.81 inch) long and 7 - 12 cm (2.75 - 4.7 inch) wide. Stem leaves alternate, gradually reduced and with shorter stalks but still ample, the upper leaves are commonly stalkless. Stem evidently winged by the conspicuously downward-extended bases of the leaves.

Propagatio Organs

Flowers

Ochroleucous, purple or dull blue, nodding, few to several in dense, isolated clusters at the end of side and top branches, the clusters based by a leaf pair.
Calyx 5-7 mm (0.19 - 0.27 inch) long, cleft to below the middle, the lobes lanceolate, pointed, long-hairy.
Corolla about 15 mm (0.59 inch) long, narrowly bell-shaped, the tube about as long as and sometimes almost as wide as the limb. Corolla typically red to purple, sometimes blue, pale yellow, or cream-colored.

Flowering Period

May-August.

Fruit

Nutlets, brownish-black, slightly wrinkled, about 4 mm (0.16 inch) long.

Seeds

Germination in spring.

Viability Of Seeds

Several years.

Propagation

By seeds and root division.

Occurrence

Habitat

Damp, often shady localities, in meadows, woods etc., especially near streams and rivers.

Soil

Rich soils containing lime and moist, shady sites.

Additional Crop Information

Pastures.

Agricultural Importance

S. officinale is highly adaptable and has become a naturalized weed in ditches, meadows, abandoned gardens, and waste places. Seed germinates rapidly, especially on wet, peaty or loam soils, and in water. The plant should not be eaten.

Control

Integrated Crop Management

Although fragmented roots can generate new plants, repeated cultivation can eliminate such weed populations, especially when timed to prevent seed production. Mowing before seed shedding can help control populations.

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