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Tuberous Comfrey

Symphytum Tuberosum

"Symphytum tuberosum L.:

Native of Europe, from Scotland, where it is common in the east, south to France and Spain, and east to Russia and Turkey. Growing in woods, scrub and by rivers, flowering in May-June.

Plant creeping to form extensive patches, with a tuberous rhizome. Stems arching 15-40 cm, little branched. Flowers pale yellow, 15-20 mm long, the scales not exserted, as they are in S. bulbosum C. Schimper.

Easily grown in shade or a cool position in sun. Early flowering, and dormant in summer. Hardy to -20 degrees C or less."

-The Random House Book of Perennials, Volume 1: Early Perennials by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, 1991, page 170

“Tuberous Comfrey: Plants form extensive patches, spreading by means of a creeping tuberous rhizome.
Height x Width: 0.6 x 0.6 metre (1.9 x 1.9 feet).
Light: Semi-shade or full sun, but prefers semi-shade. Prefers moist soil.
USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 - 8. It is in flower from May to June.

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1.2 metres (3.9 feet) apart each way. A good, and sometimes rampant, ground cover plant for a shady border or woodland.”

-‘Tuberous Comfrey, Symphytum Tuberosum’ by Balkep: The Balkan Ecology Project: A Permaculture-Inspired, Grassroots Project,, southeastern Europe, Bulgaria, 2019.

Tuberous Comfrey Roots

“Species II.: Symphytum Tuberosum. Linn. Plate MCXVII.
*Reich. Ic. Fl. Germ. et. Helv. Vol. XVIII. Tab. MCCCIV.
**Billot, Fl. Gall. et Germ. Exsicc. No. 2713.

Roots: Rootstock horizontal, tuberous, knotted, fleshy, praemorse, branched, with slender root fibres.
Rootstock fleshy, branching, the divisions somewhat resembling the tubers of the Jerusalem artichoke (but smaller), pale brown.

Stem and Leaves: Stem rather thick, simple or nearly so, very slightly winged above. Leaves all oval or elliptical-oval, the upper ones slightly decurrent, especially the pair at the base of the racemes.
Plant clothed with minute pubescence, intermixed with rather harsh bristly hairs, many of them gland-tipped.
Producing at the apex stems, but no tufts of radical leaves, as in Symphytum officinale.
The stems are 1 to 2 feet (0.3-0.6 meter) high, flexuous, much less winged and less hairy than in Symphytum officinale; the leaves taper towards the base as well as the apex, and are more rugose, much less rough, and with the hairs on the under side of the veins much fewer and shorter. The plant is of a paler and yellower green, and the lower leaves have turned brown or withered before the flowers expand.

Flowers and Nutlets: Calyx segments strap shaped, divided nearly to the base, in fruit not muricated, the hairs being seated on inconspicuous tubercles. Corolla about twice as long as the calyx; scales included.
The calyx segments are longer, narrower, and less bristly. Corolla about 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) long, ochreous (light brownish-yellow), but rather deeper in colour than in Symphytum officinale. The mature fruit (nutlets) I have not seen, but, according to ***M.Godron, it is tubercular and contracted above the base.”

-‘English Botany (Sowerby’s); or Coloured Figures of British Plants: Volume 7’ by John T. Boswell and John Edward Sowerby, London, England, 1880, page 116.
(* -‘Icones Florae Germanicae et Helveticae, Volume XVIII’ by Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, Tab/Plate MCCCIV, 1856-1858. {Reich. Ic. FI. Germ.})
(** -Paul Constant Billot, 1796-1863, was a French botanist born in Rambervillers. With botanist Friedrich Wilhelm Schultz, 1804-1876, he co-authored ‘Archives de la Flore de France et d'Allemagne’. Billot's ‘Annotations a la Flore de France et d'Allemagne’, 1855, was printed with ‘Flora Galliae et Germaniae Exsiccata’ in 1856. It was continued by other botanists as ‘Billotia’.)

Find out more about Tuberous Comfrey in Botany and History of Comfrey; Garden Uses of Comfrey

Tuberosum (Tuberous Comfrey)

Current Botanical Nomenclature

S. tuberosum Subspecies and Varieties
S. angustifolium
S. besseri
S. bulbosum
S. floribundum
S. gussonei
S. leonhardtianum
S. mediterraneum
S. nodosum
S. popovii
S. zeyheri and others

S. tuberosum Distribution (Locations)


S. tuberosum Breeds with Other Symphytum Species


Symphytum Tuberosum Complex:
Subspecies and Varieties

"The Symphytum tuberosum complex belongs to one of the most complicated groups within the genus Symphytum Linnaeus (1753: 136) in Europe, mainly due to an occurrence of polyploidy and associated extensive morphological variability (Gadella & Kliphuis 1978, Murín & Majovsky 1982, Kobrlova et al. 2016).
Despite current progress, the taxonomy of S. tuberosum is still not satisfactorily resolved. The members of this complex are distributed across Europe and Asia Minor (Bucknall 1913, Murin & Majovsky 1982, Kobrlova et al. 2016) and a total of ten taxa have been described within this complex, three of them from Central Europe:
Symphytum tuberosum Linnaeus (*1753: 136)
Symphytum angustifolium A.Kerner (**1863: 227)
Symphytum leonhardtianum Pugsley (***1931: 95)."

-‘Taxonomic Status and Typification of a Neglected Name Symphytum Leonhardtianum from the Symphytum Tuberosum Complex (Boraginaceae)” by Lucie Kobrlova, Terezie Mandakova and Michal Hrones (all from Czech Republic); Phytotaxa, Volume 349, No. 3, pages 225-236, 2018.

(* -‘Species Plantarum’ by Linnaeus, Volume 1, Symphytum tuberosum page 136.)
(** -‘Descriptiones Plantarum Novarum Florae Hungaricae et Transsilvanicae’ by A. Kerner, Oesterreichische Botanische Zeitschrift {Austrian Botanical Journal}, Vienna, Austria, Volume 13, No. 7, page 227, 1863.)
(*** -‘The Forms of Symphytum Tuberosum L.’ by H.W. Pugsley, B.A., F.L.S., Journal of Botany: British and Foreign, London, England, Volume 69, page 95, April 1931.)

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