Did you manage to get this week’s “I Spy in the Sea to Sky…”? They’ve been quite challenging lately, so if you guessed it, give yourself a high five!
Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a perennial herb that was originally brought over to North America as a garden ornamental and as a herbal medicine. It was once used to help heal fractures, sprains and bruises by creating a pulp out of the leaves and the roots and applying it to the site of injury. Unfortunately, Common Comfrey behaves invasively in areas where it has escaped from gardens, outweighing its seemingly positive benefits.
Common Comfrey has small, bell-shaped flowers that are pink and purple in colour and can be striped. The flowers form in distinctive curled clusters that resemble a scorpion’s tail and bloom between May and August. The leaves of Common Comfrey are broad, and have hairs on both sides that can cause skin irritations.
It’s a fast-growing, deep-rooted plant that becomes difficult to control once it spreads. It prefers to grow in rich, moist soils and shady sites, where it can effectively mine nutrients from the soil. When this happens, it makes the nutrients unavailable to native plants in the area and ultimately out-competes them. It also has a very unpleasant taste, so animals typically tend to avoid eating it, which aids its spread.
Common Comfrey can be very difficult to remove because of its deep roots, and any root fragments that are left behind will re-grow into a new plant. If removing it on your own, try to remove as much of the root as possible and don’t use your bare hands (remember, it causes irritation). Digging it out during dry, hot, summer weather will help to kill off any remaining root fragments.
Although you can remove Common Comfrey on your own, it is always a good idea to report it to us so that we can ensure that it is removed properly! If you do see Common Comfrey anywhere along the Sea to Sky, please let us know by calling (604)-698-8334, by reporting it at ssisc.ca/report, or by e-mailing us as firstname.lastname@example.org.