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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

The foliage of Common Comfrey is somewhat similar to other species in the Borage family, particularly Lithospermum latifolium (American Gromwell), Lithospermum officinale (European Gromwell), and Borago officinalis (Borage). However, the flowers of Common Comfrey have campanulate (bell-shaped) corollas with open throats, while the flowers of American Gromwell and European Gromwell have narrow throats. The flowers of Borage are even more distinct with their widely spreading petals and sepals; these flowers are also wider, spanning about ¾-1" across when they are fully open.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Cultivated, Native of Europe"
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Common Comfrey has naturalized in NE Illinois and scattered counties elsewhere within the state (see Distribution Map). Such naturalized plants are uncommon. Common Comfrey was introduced into North America from Eurasia as a medicinal herb. It is still cultivated in gardens. Habitats include damp grassy meadows, riverbanks, vacant lots, areas along roadsides and railroads, ditches, and waste areas. Areas with a history of disturbance are preferred.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Tamil Nadu: Dindigul
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Herbs forming tussocks, 30-90 cm tall, arcuate hispid, short strigose. Main roots purplish brown, stout. Stems erect or ascending, branched. Basal leaves long petiolate, lorate-lanceolate to ovate, 30-60 × 10-20 cm, apex acuminate; middle and upper stem leaves sessile, smaller, base decurrent. Inflorescences many flowered. Calyx parted nearly to base; lobes lanceolate, apex acuminate. Corolla light purple, purple-red, or yellowish white, 1.4-1.5 cm; throat appendages ca. 4 mm, not exserted beyond limb; lobes triangular, apex revolute. Filaments ca. 3 mm; lower part nearly as wide as anthers; anthers ca. 3.5 mm, apex with somewhat prominent connective. Ovary usually sterile, occasionally only 1 mericarp develops in a few flowers. Nutlets black, oblique ovoid or ovoid, 3-4 mm, smooth, shiny. Fl. May-Oct. 2n = 24 + 0-4b, 26, 32-45*, 46-48, 56.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Herb
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Common Comfrey has naturalized in NE Illinois and scattered counties elsewhere within the state (see Distribution Map). Such naturalized plants are uncommon. Common Comfrey was introduced into North America from Eurasia as a medicinal herb. It is still cultivated in gardens. Habitats include damp grassy meadows, riverbanks, vacant lots, areas along roadsides and railroads, ditches, and waste areas. Areas with a history of disturbance are preferred.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Habitat & Distribution

Forests. Fujian, Hebei, Liaoning, Taiwan, Xinjiang [Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan; Europe]
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Associations

Faunal Associations

For North America, little is known about floral-faunal relationships for this plant. According to Müller (1873/1883) in Germany, nectar-seeking long-tongued bees are the primary pollinators of the flowers, particularly bumblebees and Anthophorine bees (Anthophora spp.); sometimes bumblebees steal nectar by chewing holes near the corolla bases of the flowers. Müller also reported that honeybees, Halictid bees, and Syrphid flies (Rhingia sp.) would also steal nectar from the corolla holes that were created by bumblebees. Common Comfrey is somewhat toxic to mammalian herbivores and humans because it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Over a period of time, these alkaloids can cause irreversible liver damage if the foliage and especially the roots are consumed in sufficient quantity. Horses, cattle, goats, and pigs are susceptible to being poisoned; apparently sheep are more resistant to adverse reactions.
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Foodplant / miner
communal larva of Agromyza ferruginosa mines leaf of Symphytum officinale
Other: sole host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
circular, bordered, embedded sorus of Entyloma serotinum parasitises live leaf of Symphytum officinale
Remarks: season: 9

Foodplant / parasite
cleistothecium of Golovinomyces cynoglossi parasitises live Symphytum officinale

Foodplant / pathogen
hypophyllous telium of Melampsorella symphyti infects and damages live leaf of Symphytum officinale

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Melanagromyza symphyti feeds within leaf (petiole) of Symphytum officinale
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
sporangium of Peronospora symphyti parasitises live Symphytum officinale

Foodplant / miner
larva of Phytomyza symphyti mines leaf of Symphytum officinale
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
gregarious or scattered, erumpent through slits apothecium of Pirottaea symphyti is saprobic on dead stem of Symphytum officinale

Foodplant / spot causer
mainly hypophyllous colony of Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Ramularia calcea causes spots on live leaf of Symphytum officinale

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Symphytum officinale

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Symphytum officinale

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and fertile soil containing loam. There are few problems with insect pests and disease organisms.
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Wikipedia

Symphytum officinale

This article is about the species. For the use of comfrey in gardening and herbal medicine, see Comfrey.

Symphytum officinale is a perennial flowering plant of the genus Symphytum in the family Boraginaceae. Along with thirty four other species of Symphytum, it is known as comfrey. To differentiate it from other members of the genus Symphytum, this species is known as common comfrey or true comfrey.[1] Other English names include Quaker comfrey, cultivated comfrey,[1] boneset, knitbone, consound, and slippery-root.[2] It is native to Europe and it is known elsewhere, including North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a weed.

Description[edit]

The hardy plant can grow to a height of 1.3 m (4 ft).

Uses[edit]

Symphytum officinale roots have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or tincture) or externally (as ointment, compresses,or alcoholic digestion) for treatment of disorders of the locomotor system and gastrointestinal tract. The leaves and stems have also been used for the treatment of the same disorders, and additionally also for treatment of rheumatism and gout.[3]

Comfrey has been used in folk medicine as a poultice for treating burns and wounds. However, internal consumption, such as in the form of herbal tea, is discouraged, as it has been highly debated about whether it can cause serious liver damage.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The potential of Russian comfrey (Symphytum officinale) as an animal feedstuff in Uganda
  2. ^ GRIN Species Profile
  3. ^ Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, Fakhrudin N, Atanasov AG, Heiss EH, Wawrosch C, Reznicek G, Dirsch VM, Saukel J, Kopp B. Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine - An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs. J Ethnopharmacol.2013 Jun13. doi:pii: S0378-8741(13)00410-8. 10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23770053. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23770053
  4. ^ Oberlies, Nicholas H. et al., "Analysis of herbal teas made from the leaves of comfrey (Symphytum officinale)", Public Health Nutrition 7 (7): 919–924, doi:10.1079/phn2004624, PMID 15482618 
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