Middle English cumfirie, from Anglo-French cunfirie, from Latin conferva a water plant, from confervēre to grow together (of bones), from com- + fervēre to boil — more at barm
First Known Use: 13th century
Any herb of the Eurasian genus Symphytum (borage family). Best known is the medicinal common comfrey (S. officinale), used to treat wounds and as a source of a gum used to treat wool. Traditionally it was also taken internally for various complaints. Organic farmers use it to deter slugs and as a green manure. The coiled sprays of bell-like, hanging comfrey blooms are usually pollinated by bees. Common comfrey is about 3 ft (90 cm) tall, with winged, hairy stems and blue, purplish, or yellow flowers.