One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A Eurasian plant of the borage family, which has large hairy leaves and clusters of purplish or white bell-shaped flowers.
Genus Symphytum, family Boraginaceae: several species, in particular the common comfrey (S. officinale), which is used in herbal medicine (see boneset)
- ‘These products often include comfrey, chickweed, echinacea, calendula, goldenseal, plantain, essential oils, and a host of other herbs in a base of olive oil and beeswax.’
- ‘Himalayan balsam crowds out native plants such as comfrey and willow herb, which are both important food sources for insects.’
- ‘Some 3 percent of all flowering plants produce these chemicals, including such herbal-garden favorites as borage and comfrey.’
- ‘Particularly good trap crops include: green lettuce, cabbage, calendula, marigolds, comfrey leaves, zinnias and beans.’
- ‘I was amazed to find that the comfrey plants (I planted the offsets last Thursday) which were only just sprouting a couple of days ago, all now have proper leaves!’
Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French cumfirie, based on Latin conferva, from confervere ‘heal’ (literally ‘boil together’, referring to the plant's medicinal use).
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