Herb latin name: Symphytum tuberosum
Family: Boraginaceae (Borage Family)
Edible parts of Symphytum tuberosum:When roasted until brown and brittle, and then finely ground, the root is used as a coffee substitute. It has a smoothness that is not found in real coffee.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Woods, scrub and by rivers.
Other uses of Symphytum tuberosum:A good, and sometimes rampant, ground cover plant for a shady border or woodland.
Propagation of the herb:Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed you can try an outdoor sowing in situ in the spring. Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Simply use a spade to chop off the top 7cm of root just below the soil level. The original root will regrow and you will have a number of root tops, each of which will make a new plant. These can either be potted up or planted out straight into their permanent positions.
Cultivation of Symphytum tuberosum:Woods, scrub and by rivers.
Medicinal use of the herb:None known
Known hazards of Symphytum tuberosum:No reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, but the following reports have been seen for S. officinale. This plant contains small quantities of a toxic alkaloid which can have a cumulative effect upon the liver. Largest concentrations are found in the roots, leaves contain higher quantities of the alkaloid as they grow older and young leaves contain almost none. Most people would have to consume very large quantities of the plant in order to do any harm, though anyone with liver problems should obviously be more cautious. In general, the health-promoting properties of the plant probably far outweigh any possible disbenefits, especially if only the younger leaves are used.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.