Author Topic: Comfrey types and facts ..  (Read 25496 times)

Offline surfivor

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Comfrey types and facts ..
« on: May 10, 2014, 08:47:48 AM »

 The FDA claims eating comfrey can be dangerous to the liver due to alkaloids, however I heard in actuality the amount of alkaloids they injected into rats to figure that out you would have to eat a whole field of comfrey to get the same effect for a human (about 5,600 leaves), nevertheless FDA discourages internal use of comfrey though it has been used as a medicine for thousands of years

 I guess the comfrey that many people grow is sterile so you get no seeds and it won't spread. You have to spread it by root cuttings. I saw comfrey seeds online, but those must be for the non sterile type which one web site says just use the sterile type ..

Offline Perfesser

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2014, 11:37:26 AM »
Just got some seeds from Horizon Herbs, LLC in Williams, OR
Comfrey True (Symphytum officinale var patens) packet of 10 seeds organic $3.95

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2014, 12:47:48 PM »
Buying the pieces of root is very inexpensive. I bought both the smallest size crown division and also root cuttings from Coes Comfrey. Both were great. I started the root cuttings inside in a flat, then I am about to transplant out. I dont want the ones from seeds as then the spread could become uncontrolled and invasive. I also want this strain which is more palatible to livestock

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2014, 01:24:59 PM »
I've tried seeds several times without any luck, but now just use sterile blocking 14. If I want more now I just dig it up in the spring and take the root and plant it somewhere in my garden. There's always enough root left where the original plant was growing so it will grow back.

I don't use it medicinally. I use it to make a compost tea with the rotting leaves. One plant harvested into 15 gallons of water makes a stinky, but nutrient rich liquid fertilizer in about a week during the heat of the summer. During the early spring it takes a bit longer due to the cooler temperatures. You can harvest each plant about every six weeks where I live.

Offline Dainty

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2014, 05:25:46 PM »
Different species of comfrey contain differing levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

As one article states:

Another problem with the studies which were done on comfrey is that the researchers often did not differentiate between the different species of comfrey. Russian comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) contains up to 5 times the amount of PAs as common comfrey (Symphytum officinale). However, in one study, the names S. x uplandicum and S. officinale were used interchangeably. In addition, the root contains a much higher level of PAs, as many as 10-20 times the amount found in mature leaves.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2014, 08:47:42 PM »
Bocking 4 and Bocking 14 reproduce from the root only.  Bocking 4 is all-purpose, Bocking 14 may be bitter to livestock, handy if you don't want your chickens to pulverized it.

I have used Coe's Comfrey and can wholeheartedly recommend them.

~TG

Offline mxitman

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2014, 10:59:56 PM »
I've got Bocking 14 from a local guy who I met on the Permies forum, he gave me a small piece of root cuttings and over 2 years that has grown into about a dozen plants that I still have plus I've given away another 12-16 crowns...I can confirm that it's sterile as the seeds don't work and my chickens wouldn't touch it... As Jack as mentioned about spiders they like it as well as ground nesting birds, I've found several under the leaves so I always need to check before I dig or cut it back.

I found they are hard to kill, I didn't plant the root cutting for several weeks as I forgot about them in a paperbag, it looked liked they dried out and I planted them anyway...after about 2 months they started to pop up

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2014, 07:46:43 AM »
Good stuff guys.  Indeed the roots have a lot more PAs than the plants. I am growing mostly bocking 4 myself right now but do plan to grow some native stuff from seed.  While I think even the bocking 4 and 14 leaf is moderate enough in PAs for safe use, there is no substitute for the orginal that has been used (as in we know from literature) since 300 BC might I add safely.

Offline Marinesg1012

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2014, 10:49:15 AM »
where can you get Bocking 4? Is there zone's it doesnt do well in?

endurance

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2014, 11:08:36 AM »
where can you get Bocking 4? Is there zone's it doesnt do well in?
Coe's Comfrey

I have mostly bocking 14 from Horizon Herbs, but I also have some Coe's number 4.  Both do well with my harsh winters, but I have fairly mild summers and it is on the thirsty side when it's hot.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2014, 01:41:36 PM »
Comfrey prefers water, but it will survive if you cant get to it, once it has enough root base. There was a piece of root I planted and forgot about until I saw it come up the next year -- but that wasnt full sun. Hm, there is another one forgot about, grown over by blackberries for a few years, blackberries aggressively taken out by workers, with no thought there might be anything there to save. A pile of wood chips dumped. Then, the next year like a phoenix rising form the ashes, comes that comfrey plant.

It does not rain here for 6 months of the year, sometimes longer like last year.... But, if you want to get multiple cuttings, and nice large growth, water it.

This is why I dont have the spread by self seeding type. ANd, this is why they say to think hard about where you plant your comfrey as it will always be there.

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2014, 02:01:58 PM »
Actually one thing kills comfrey, grass.  If you let grass run amuck in an area it will eventually kill comfrey. 

Offline Marinesg1012

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2014, 09:19:17 PM »
Coe's Comfrey

I have mostly bocking 14 from Horizon Herbs, but I also have some Coe's number 4.  Both do well with my harsh winters, but I have fairly mild summers and it is on the thirsty side when it's hot.

Thanks, I will be planting some 14 next week, perhaps next year I will order some 4 to see how it does.

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2014, 08:59:49 AM »
Comfrey is hardy to at least USDA zone 4, all varieties it doesn't matter.  Heavily mulched with some heat trapping I bet well into zone 3 would not shake it.  It can regrow from a piece of root the size of a pencil eraser.  Don't sweat it at all, just plant what you want and it will grow. 

Offline R_Morgan

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2014, 10:09:07 AM »
I orderd some root cuttings from bocking #14.

Since I plan to move I am not planting it outside but plan on growing it in a pot for easier transport, etc.

How long from planting say next week will it take to grow the full plant?

Also how long before I can start using it for root cuttings?

thanks!

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2014, 10:31:40 AM »
The stuff here was started from large cuttings and was in the pots from 6-9 months depending on the pot.  Use large and DEEP pots for best results.  Mine we plenty big, but not as deep as what would be optimum but worked fine as you will see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p0ndfxFrqo

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2014, 10:34:22 AM »
Sorry man this is the video with the roots being harvested, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa2sdsr62nk

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2014, 12:18:37 PM »
I orderd some root cuttings from bocking #14.

Since I plan to move I am not planting it outside but plan on growing it in a pot for easier transport, etc.

How long from planting say next week will it take to grow the full plant?

Also how long before I can start using it for root cuttings?

thanks!

Comfrey is a "mining" plant, it's roots go deep to pull minerals out of deep soil.  If your comfrey container has drain holes in the bottom, the roots will eventually travel through those holes to reach soil beneath.

You may see comfrey reappear when the pot is later moved.  Just sayin'.

~TG

Offline R_Morgan

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2014, 10:36:43 PM »
Awesome Jack! Thanks for the link to the videos.

I have a large planter that Im going to grow it in for the next 6 months to a year.  Hopefully I can get the word on a new position and moved by then and next summer harvest the root cuttings and crowns from this one and get a good crop going (taking your PDC this summer so It will be incorporated into the new properties design).  Then I am planning on selling these to local and national buyers, small scale, but enough to say pay for a few boxes or more of ammo (or maybe a dinner for the wife)

Offline R_Morgan

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2014, 12:35:56 PM »
Finally got my root cutting today and actually looks more like a crown than cutting!


I was wondering should I mix in some manure for it and later some worm castings/juice?   

I know it lose nitrogen so I thought manure would be good.  The stuff I have is older so not fresh fresh.   

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2014, 12:53:29 PM »
Finally got my root cutting today and actually looks more like a crown than cutting!


I was wondering should I mix in some manure for it and later some worm castings/juice?   

I know it lose nitrogen so I thought manure would be good.  The stuff I have is older so not fresh fresh.   
As long as it gets water, it will thrive regardless of the soil you put it in.  I wouldn't waste the time, energy or effort. 

Offline R_Morgan

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2014, 02:35:55 PM »
Wasnt any time or effort the stable is full of it a few yards from the house, threw in 4 or so soaked handfuls into the soil and hand mixed it in some straw for mulching right below the soil surface and watered it well.  Stuck the root  2 inches under the surface and placed it in the sun room where it will get partial to little direct sunlight.

After I harvest some roots next spring and summer, going to start selling this locally, maybe even over the net if they dont pass that stupid net tax and make it a huge pain in the butt to sell online.  The more that sell it the better it will be for everyone, more competitive market.  Will be grown in without any artificial fertilizers, etc., organic soils/manure and worm juice.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2014, 07:18:31 PM »

 This is where I got my comfrey:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/111108395866?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

How can I tell if it is the sterile kind or if it will produce seeds and spread ?
It looks like it may be getting ready to flower in a while, does that mean anything ? I did not know that there was a big difference when I purchased it and when I did hear about it I looked at the site and assumed it was sterile, but now I am no longer sure.

 Gayle on youcanhomestead podcast mentioned that ebay site which is where I found that ebay site:
http://youcanhomestead.com/fall-gardening-tomatoes-in-buckets-comfrey-beneficial-use-and-how-to-grow-itych32/

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2014, 09:46:09 PM »
This is where I got my comfrey:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/111108395866?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

How can I tell if it is the sterile kind or if it will produce seeds and spread ?
It looks like it may be getting ready to flower in a while, does that mean anything ? I did not know that there was a big difference when I purchased it and when I did hear about it I looked at the site and assumed it was sterile, but now I am no longer sure.

 Gayle on youcanhomestead podcast mentioned that ebay site which is where I found that ebay site:
http://youcanhomestead.com/fall-gardening-tomatoes-in-buckets-comfrey-beneficial-use-and-how-to-grow-itych32/

Ebay might not be the best place to buy comfrey.  The page doesn't indicate if it is a Bocking variety, or if so, which one.  It's good practice to ask before buying.  Let's assume this is wild comfrey and the seeds will make it invasive.  If you do not want comfrey everywhere, simply keep the flowers trimmed off.  Then it can only propagate by root.

I believe all varieties of comfrey will flower, it's some of the hybrid varieties that make sterile seeds.

~TG

Offline surfivor

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2014, 02:13:15 AM »
If it's sterile it won't produce any seeds I guess or will it produce sterile seeds ? I would guess perhaps the former

 I sent the seller a question on ebay:

" I bought comfrey from you last year as someone online had mentioned your product. I have since learned that some comfrey is sterile and will not spread through seeds. This type of comfrey is recommended by many as if it is not sterile then it will spread and is fairly invasive. Since I did not know about this previously, whichever type it is is no fault of yours but can you tell me which type it is as well as if it is bocking 4 or bocking 14 or what type ? Is it sterile or not ? I would just like to know so I can plan accordingly

Thank you kindly"
« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 02:38:53 AM by surfivor »

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2014, 01:23:42 PM »
I'm hoping this is a type of comfrey and now that it has flowered I think it is true comfrey (Symphytum officinalis).  It is all over my new homestead which tells me it propagates via seed unlike the Russian Bocking varieties.  I have some of the Bocking varieties which have larger leaves.  Above someone mentions wanting to sell comfrey and having both types available for sale sounds like the best route to go.  I could see selling roots of both types and seeds of the true type.

  I wonder if they two types can mix to produce a hybrid variety with seeds that grow.

Before flowers


With flowers, which the bees like. Now that I've viewed the flowers I think it actually is a type of comfrey.



Offline Coctailer

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #26 on: June 02, 2014, 05:06:18 PM »
How fast is Coe's delivering these days? I want to get 3-4 plants for my garden.

Is #4 what I need for compost, compost tea, and medicinal?

Offline christphrmurray

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2014, 06:55:05 PM »
Not long bout week or two.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2014, 09:43:44 PM »
How fast is Coe's delivering these days? I want to get 3-4 plants for my garden.

Is #4 what I need for compost, compost tea, and medicinal?

What Coe's sells, Bocking 4, would be just fine.

~TG

Offline R_Morgan

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Re: Comfrey types and facts ..
« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2014, 10:38:43 PM »
I ordered from http://www.nantahala-farm.com/comfrey-growing2-s.shtml  it took about a week to get here and the cutting was large, a ball of root, but not a cutting about the size of a tennis ball.

I bought Bocking #14 and it was planted on saturday and is just about to break through the soil (should be peeking its head out tomorrow or the next day).

They are a little pricier than others, $5 a root cutting (but it was large) and $7 flat for shipping no matter how many you order, so its more cost effective to order more than one if you are so inclined. 

However like i said i HAD it in hand in a week vs 2-3 for coes.