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Giant Butterbur

Petasites japonicus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Gardens, mountains, riversides, waterside.

White, 5 petals
The daisy-like flowers are creamy-white and are held in a tight cluster, looking rather like a cauliflower. Each year the flowers appear before the leaves. Each flower has 5 stamens.
The fruit is an achene with a white pappus at one end.
Gigantic, long-stalked, kidney-shaped, toothed, basal leaves, up to 90cm wide. Perennial.
The flowers are fragrant.
Other Names:
Bog Rhubarb, Butterbur, Fuki, Great Butterbur, Japanese Butterbur, Japanese Sweet Coltsfoot.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Petasites japonicus, also known as Japanese butterbur or Japanese sweet coltsfoot, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to Japan and is commonly found in damp, shaded areas, such as woodlands, along streams, and in wetland areas. P. japonicus is a herbaceous perennial that grows to a height of up to 1 meter. It has large, heart-shaped leaves and small, pink or white flowers that bloom in the spring. The plant is valued for its medicinal properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin conditions. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species. P. japonicus is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is known for its ability to tolerate damp, shaded conditions.


Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus) is a large, fast-growing herbaceous perennial plant native to Asia, including Japan, Korea, and China. It is known for its giant, heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 3 feet wide, making it an attractive ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping.

This plant is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and grows in damp, shady areas, making it an ideal choice for planting along streams, ponds, or in woodlands. It is also commonly used as a ground cover in areas where other plants struggle to grow.

In addition to its ornamental value, Giant Butterbur has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Its roots and leaves contain compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, making it a useful plant for treating headaches, fever, and other conditions. It has also been used as a traditional remedy for allergies, asthma, and hay fever.

Giant Butterbur is hardy and easy to care for, making it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade, and is relatively low-maintenance, needing only occasional trimming to control its size.

However, it is important to note that the plant is not without its downsides. The sap of Giant Butterbur can cause skin irritation in some people, and its leaves are toxic to livestock and pets. Additionally, its fast growth rate can be problematic in some areas, as it can become invasive if not properly managed.

Giant Butterbur is not only an attractive ornamental plant but also has a long history of use in traditional medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, for example, the roots and leaves of the plant are used to treat a wide range of ailments, including headaches, migraines, coughs, and colds. In Japan, the plant has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for digestive problems, skin conditions, and respiratory issues.

The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Giant Butterbur have been confirmed by modern scientific research. Studies have found that compounds found in the plant, such as petasin and isopetasin, have potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. These compounds are thought to work by blocking the production of certain pro-inflammatory substances in the body, such as prostaglandins.

Aside from its medicinal uses, Giant Butterbur is also a popular food in some parts of Asia. The young shoots and leaves are often used as a vegetable in Japan and China, and the plant's stalks and leaves are used to make a type of pickled dish known as "fuki no mono."

In terms of cultivation, Giant Butterbur is relatively easy to grow and can be propagated from division or cuttings. It prefers partial shade and well-drained, moist soil, and can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 3-8. Once established, the plant is fairly low-maintenance, requiring only occasional trimming to control its size and shape.

In conclusion, Giant Butterbur is a versatile and attractive plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine and cuisine. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it a useful plant for treating a variety of health conditions, while its fast growth rate and ease of cultivation make it an attractive choice for gardeners and landscapers. However, it is important to be aware of its potential invasiveness and toxic effects on pets and livestock before planting.