Mittwoch, 4. Mai 2011

Plant of the Day (May 4th, 2011) - Symphytum officinale agg. (with two subspecies)

Today, I will introduce two plants, but they are belonging to the same species. This species is Symphytum officinale agg. with its two subspecies Symphytum officinale ssp. officnale L. (“common comfrey” in Englisch,; “Arznei-Beinwell” in German) and Symphytum officinale ssp. bohemicum (F. W. Schmidt) Celak. (“White common comfrey” in English and “Weißer Arznei Beinwell” in German). These plants belong to the Boragniaceae family.

S. officinale ssp. officinale - Habitus

S. officinale ssp. bohemicum - Habitus

Symphytum officinale ssp. officnale L. is a perennial with a strong, square stem. The normal foliage-leaves are laceolate and run down the stem. Both shoot axis and leaves are covered with stiff bristles (which the family of the Boraginaceae also gave its name). The petals of the flower are purple. The whole plant is between 0,3 and 1 metre high.

S. officinale ssp. officinale - Flowers and leaves

Symphytum officinale ssp. bohemicum (F. W. Schmidt) Celak looks similar, but has narrower leaves and white petals.

S. officinale ssp. bohemicum - flowers and leaves

S. officinale ssp. bohemicum - leaves


The subspecies are both native to middle Europe and Asia. They like moist, fresh places with soils; rich of nutrients. So you can find it e. g. at wet meadows, wet road sides or in riparian forrests but also in ditches or moist ruderal places. I found the red one at the “Urdenbacher Kämpe”, a Wetland area in the South of Düsseldorf, Western Germany. The yellow one however, I found at a pavement (maybe it has escaped from a garden).

Comfrey is a known medicinal plant, which is said to have healing effect on broken bones and tendonitis. Even today, his ingredients are used in many ointments.

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