Winter Heliotrope - Petasites fragrans


This plant forms large patches of heart or kidney shaped leaves. It is dioecious but only the pale pink male flowers are found in Britain and they have very short petals (rays). It flowers as early as January, with only leaves visible after flowering.

Identification difficulty

Damp places such as stream sides, hedge bottoms and woodland, particularly near gardens from where it may have escaped.

When to see it

Flowers from November through to February but has mostly finished by March 1st.

Life History

Perennial. The creeping rhizome of this plant can make it an invasive weed.

UK Status

Locally common in England, Ireland and Wales, Petasites fragrans has fewer significant sites the farther north you go and it is largely absent from Northern Scotland.

VC55 Status

Occasional and local in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 10 of the 617 tetrads.

Further Information

This plant is listed as an invasive non-native species: NNSS Winter Heliotrope

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Winter Heliotrope
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
26/11/2011 (Semper, Alan)
Last record:
01/01/2024 (Cunningham, Sally)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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Latest images

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Photo of the association

Phytomyza tussilaginis

The larva of the fly Phytomyza tussilaginis mines the leaves of Butterbur, Colt’s-foot and Winter Heliotrope, producing a long narrow mine, widening at the end and often forming a secondary blotch.