Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Winter Heliotrope
Petasites fragrans

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Petasites (pet-uh-SY-tees) (Info)
Species: fragrans (FRAY-granz) (Info)

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Unknown - Tell us

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Winter


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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No positives
No neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Apr 17, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

An aggressive, uncontrollably spreading perennial with a deep running rootstock. I see it growing in dense stands many yards across from which it excludes other vegetation. I suspect it's as invasive in natural areas here as it is in the British Isles. It isn't something I'd ever plant.

The early spring flowers (mid-April this year) remind me of a purplish ear of corn or bottle brush, and are more interesting than beautiful. They do have some fragrance. Some have compared it to vanilla or licorice, though it isn't strong and to my nose it's more evocative of wholesale flower market (Oasis foam and floral preservative). I don't find any similarity to heliotrope.

The foliage emerges late, after flowering has finished.

Some people believe this plant has herbal uses, but it contains toxic compounds than can damage the liver or cause cancer if ingested.

It's long established in the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, MA, Z6a.

Negative sfb_dot_com On Jan 26, 2011, sfb_dot_com from Truro
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

A pretty plant, and often in flower on Christmas Day here in Cornwall. However it is an invasive weed that colonizes roadsides, waste ground and gardens. It smothers native plant species, and is extremely difficult to remove. The underground roots break very easily and each bit sends up a new shoot. Even weedkiller is largely ineffective.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Martinez, California
Roslindale, Massachusetts

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