Butterbur - Petasites hybridus


Short to tall, hairy, patch forming plant that grows each year from a creeping rhizome. The leaves are large, roughly heart-shaped and emerging from the rhizome, they are grey-hairy beneath, appearing after the flowers. The male and female flowers are on separate plants (dioecious). Flowerheads are pale reddish violet unscented and borne in cone shaped panicles.

Similar Species

The Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus subsp giganteus) is occasionally naturalised.  It has larger leaves, dentate rather than lobed, and the bracts under the flower heads are much larger; the flowerheads are hemispherical unlike Butterbur's cylindrical heads.

White Buttterbur (Petasites albus) has also been recorded in VC55 in the past

Identification difficulty

Damp habitats, river and stream banks, wet meadows and damp woodland.

When to see it

March to May.

UK Status

Fairly frequent in suitable habitats throughout Britain, except in the far north of Scotland.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 72 of the 617 tetrads.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map