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Common Name: Arctic Sweet Coltsfoot
Petasites hyperboreus is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.15 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
North-western N. America - Alaska to Oregon, east to Saskatchewan.
Meadows, swampy places and moist woods[
]. Arctic tundra, moist alpine-subalpine slopes, streams, marshes, edges of moist forests, gravelly or sandy roadsides at elevaions of 10 - 2300 metres[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will succeed in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. According to some reports this species is no more than a synonym of P. frigidus[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
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[
]. 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.
Young leaves - cooked. A felt-like texture[
Young stalks and flower heads - cooked[
The burnt leaves are used as a salt substitute[
]. The stems and leaves, whilst still green, are rolled up into balls, dried and then placed on top of a very small fire on a rock and burned[
]. A very acceptable condiment for piñole[
Antispasmodic, poultice, salve[
An infusion of the dried, stored leaves has been used in the treatment of colds, head and chest congestion[
The cotton-like seed heads have been used as a stuffing material in mattresses etc[
The leaves have been used to make temporary cone-shaped containers for picking fruit[
]. The leaves have occasionally been used to form makeshift funnels[
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.