True Comfrey (Symphytum officinale var patens) is a hardy perennial shrub native to Europe and Asia and is highly valued for permaculture/subsistence gardens.
Comfrey has an aggressive, deep taproot, and is considered a valuable nutrient cycler. Comfrey's deep roots mine nutrients from the subsoil, primarily accumulating potassium, but also nitrogen, phosphorus, trace minerals and micro-nutrients. These nutrients are pulled up by its roots and concentrated in its leaves. The plant can be cut to the ground two to three times a year, and the leaves used in myriad ways: fermented to make a nutrient-rich tea; added to a compost pile as a compost activator; as animal fodder; as a green manure – or nutrient-rich surface mulch. Comfrey is commonly used as an orchard understory plant to suppress weeds, mine nutrients, and provide a surface mulch around the tree by chopping and dropping the leaves in place. Comfrey flowers are also excellent bee forage.
Substantial foliage forms approximately 90 days after transplanting seedlings. Perennial.