Much loved by bees, Symphytum officinale spreads throughout Europe and S.W. Asia. Preferring moist soil in shaded conditions, the plants will colonise as a rampant long lived herbaceous groundcover. They also produce good growth in sun; just ensure the soil is deep and moist.
Flowers blue purple with a bulbous rounded tube of petals, this falls leaving a white needle like style, menacingly protective of the plant. In reality these will cause no damage being soft to the touch.
Clumping up and regenerating from the rootstock, a vigorous grower to 1 metre plus. Choose the planting position with care. The stems are covered in a sheen of white hairs, running a finger over these feels like the back of your neck after a short back and sides haircut.
Long pointed leaves are also covered in minute hairs. It is these leaves that have a high nutrient value when used as a teabag infusion in water to produce a concentrate liquid feed. Collect the leaves to soak in a water permeable bag, suspended in a barrel or bucket of water. After about 10 days a black concentrate will form. By diluting this, 1:10 – 1:15 a potassium rich liquid feed is obtained. The sodden mass of putrid leaves can be added to the compost heap. At all times the container should be lidded, this helps contain the smell and deter flies.