We have been digging up various roots at Ivywood these last few weeks for drying, tincturing, and oil and vinegar making.
Comfrey is one of the roots we harvest every year. We decided to uproot some comfrey from a patch we planted 2 years ago, and we were surprised to find some of the root unusable. In general, herbal roots are harvested from early winter to early Spring.
Comfrey does well in damp soils and its roots are not usually affected by very wet winters, but some roots on this plant seemed to have been. You can see in the picture the roots in my left hand are grey whereas the root in my right hand are white. The roots on the left felt waterlogged and less dense than the right hand roots.
Fresh Comfrey roots are very hard and should snap when broken by hand. Comfrey should be white and dense in the inner root and black outer root bark.
These roots came from the same plant! This is the first time harvesting from this bed of Comfrey and maybe we waited a bit long this season. We had a very wet December and January, and it would possibly have been best to examine these roots earlier in winter. I had noticed some soil on that bed had been washed away with the heavy rains and the recent frost may have left part of the Comfrey root too shallow in the ground to be protected from the cold. I did a clear out of this comfrey bed removing any roots which seemed weak and covering the remaining roots with soil to continue to grow into plants.
It’s important when harvesting herbs to only use plant material that’s in good condition. Getting familiar with the correct feel, weight, smell, taste and colour of your plants at different stages of its growth is key to having good material for making medicines. These roots were semi dried and made into an infused oil to be used in external applications for musculoskeletal issues and skin conditions.
If you are looking for Comfrey plants please visit our herb nursery shop https://www.ivywood.ie/shop/medicinal-plants