Symphytum 'Goldsmith'
Common Name: comfrey 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Pink to blue to white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in moist, organically rich soils in part shade, but has respectable drought tolerance and can do reasonably well in dryish, shady locations. Tolerates close to full shade. Many of the comfeys spread by creeping rhizomes and can be quite aggressive in the garden and can be very difficult to dig out because any small section of root left behind can sprout a new plant. Easily propagated by root cuttings or division. Trim foliage as needed to shape plant. Cutting back stems promptly after flowering may encourage a rebloom.

‘Goldsmith’ is generally rather restrained and can be easily controlled.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Comfrey is generally a coarse hairy rhizomatous perennial that is typically grown in borders or shade gardens for its attractive foliage and Virginia bluebell-like spring flowers. Some species of comfrey (e.g., S. officinale) have been grown in medicinal herb gardens for several centuries for the purported healing properties of the leaves and roots when applied as a poultice to inflamations and wounds. It should be noted, however, that the leaves are poisonous if ingested.

Genus name comes from the Greek words symphyo meaning to grow together and phyton for plant as the plant was believed to help heal wounds.

‘Goldsmith’ is a variegated hybrid comfrey cultivar (parentage unknown) that typically grows in a low-spreading clump to 12” tall. It features light green crinkled leaves (to 4” long) that are edged with golden yellow. Bell-shaped, bluebell-like, pink to blue to white flowers appear in drooping clusters (scorpiod cymes) in mid-spring to early summer. ‘Goldsmith’ is not grown for herbal reasons. ‘Goldsmith’ is sometimes listed and sold as a cultivar of S. grandiflorum. ‘Goldsmith’ is also synonymous with S. ibericum ‘Jubilee’.


No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails may attack the foliage.


Borders. Naturalize in woodland gardens, shade gardens, cottage gardens or wildflower meadows.