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Common Name: Butterbur
Petasites albus is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
N. and C. Europe. Naturalized in Britain.
Waste ground, roadsides, plantations and woods[
], often in damp soils[
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[
], but prefers a deep fertile humus-rich soil that is permanently moist but not stagnant, succeeding in shade, semi-shade or full sun[
]. Prefers partial shade[
]. Prefers a heavy soil[
]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[
A very invasive plant, too rampant for anything other than the wild garden[
Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
The small fleshy petioles (leaf stems) are very palatable when cooked and eaten like asparagus[
The root is emmenagogue, hypnotic, sedative and vulnerary[
]. The ground or finely chopped rhizome has a healing effect when applied to slow-healing or weak ulcers, or to suppurating wounds[
An infusion of the leaves is a specific remedy for coughs[
A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots[
]. It is used in the treatment of wounds, ulcers etc[
A good ground cover for the wilder areas of the garden[
]. It is too invasive to be used in small gardens and is only suitable for covering large areas[
The leaves were at one time used by peasants as a head covering[
Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in early spring. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the compost to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.