Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'

Athyrium Burgundy Lace  Perennial of the Month-- April 2009

  (sim-FI-tum  up-LAN-di-cum) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Golden Variegated Russian Comfrey

Family: Borage (Boraginaceae)

Height x width: 36-48in. x 36in.

Growth rate, habit: rapid, upright

Foliage: elongated leaves mounding at base to 18in. high, basal 8-10" long and 3-4" wide, upper stem leaves 2-3" long; green with wide creamy yellow margins;  slightly hairy

Flowers: tubular, one inch long, in forked cymes (drooping clusters) in upper axils of stems; various blue to purple; late spring; not particularly showy

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-7

Soil: moist to damp

Light: full sun to part shade

Pests and problems: occasionally powdery mildew

Landscape habit, uses: beds, backs of borders, part shade gardens, woodlands, specimen; combines well with Dicentra 'Gold Heart', tall ferns, dark-leaved bugbane (Cimicifuga), hostas, ornamental grasses and sedges

Other interest: leaves may irritate skin on some, ingesting leaves may cause serious discomfort from toxin pyrrolizidine; species is a cross between common comfrey (S. officinale) and prickly comfrey (S. asperum), native to Caucasus; leaves can be used as common comfrey for green manure; not aggressive as common comfrey

Other culture: better in northern than southern gardens; cutting stems back after flowering may promote new foliage; remove old leaves in fall, but cut foliage back in spring to prevent winter rotting; deer resistant

Propagation: divide in spring, root cuttings in early winter, stem cuttings in summer

Sources:  Seneca Hill Perennials (NY)

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