Symphytum × uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'
Common Name: comfrey 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Mauve pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in moist, organically rich soils. Best leaf variegation usually occurs with some part afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Many of the comfreys, including this hybrid, spread aggressively by creeping rhizomes and can be somewhat invasive in the garden. Moreover, once planted, comfrey 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. If growing as a foliage plant, however, consider removing flowering stems as they appear.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Symphytum × uplandicum is generally a coarse, hairy, rhizomatous perennial that is typically grown in borders and shade gardens for its attractive foliage and Virginia bluebell-like spring flowers. Symphytum x uplandicum, commonly known as Russian comfrey, is a naturally occurring hybrid (S. officinale x S. asperum) that grows in waste areas and disturbed soils in the Caucasus Mountains. It typically grows in an upright clump to 18-24” tall with flower stems to 4-5'. It features large, oblong to elliptic-lanceolate, medium green leaves (to 14” long at the plant base) and bell-shaped, bluebell-like flowers that appear in drooping clusters (scorpiod cymes) from mid-spring to early summer. From pinkish buds, flowers open up rose but mature to purple.

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.

Specific epithet means of Uppland, Sweden.

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.

‘Axminster Gold’ is a vigorous variegated-leaf cultivar that features striking grayish green leaves with broad yellow leaf margins. It typically grows in a rosette to 18" tall with a spread to 24-30" wide. Clusters of mauve pink bells bloom in late spring to early summer (June-July) atop stems rising from the foliage mound to 4-5' tall.

Problems

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

Garden Uses

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