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a genus of perennial plants of the family Boraginaceae. The plants are tall, usually coarse grasses. The leaves are entire and alternate. The flowers, which are purple-violet, blue, pink, yellow, or white, are in whorled inflorescences. There are approximately 25 species of Symphytum, distributed in Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. Ten species are found in the USSR, growing primarily in moist areas. The common comfrey (S. officinalis) grows in the forest and steppe zones. It contains alkaloids and tannic substances in its roots and rhizomes. The plant is used medicinally for man and animals as an anti-inflammatory and coagulant. The prickly comfrey (S. asper-um), which grows in the Caucasus and the European USSR (where it has been imported), is used as feed, primarily for swine and rabbits. Both species are highly nectariferous and provide dyes. The tuberous thickened rhizomes of S. tuberosum are edible. Some species, such as S. caucasicum and S. grandiflorum, are sometimes cultivated as ornamentals.