Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Japanese Butterbur, Sweet Coltsfoot, Fuki
Petasites japonicus

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Petasites (pet-uh-SY-tees) (Info)
Species: japonicus (juh-PON-ih-kus) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Winter


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

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

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There are a total of 17 photos.
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6 positives
5 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

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

This plant is grown mainly for its dramatic, coarse foliage. The early spring flowers have novelty value but would be beneath mention if they bloomed when more plants do.

The big leaves rise late and smother all competitors. They flag dispiritedly in sun in the hot part of the day, even in near-bog conditions, but they perk right up when it cools off.

This species spreads quickly and aggressively by a running rootstock that's hard to contain---it will easily escape a big container through the drainage holes. At Naumkeag in Stockbridge, MA, it has taken over many acres. At the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, its spread is limited by water.

I wouldn't plant this even in a large garden, because it covers and monopolizes such large areas so quickly.

This species has naturalized in Ontario and the Pacific Northwest.

Negative hal2010 On Apr 22, 2013, hal2010 from Toronto
Canada wrote:

Beautiful foliage but highly invasive. It migrates. I planted it in my back garden but it's been chasing the sun and has moved approx 12 feet and it now damaging a driveway. It does remarkably well in our hot, dry Ontario summers.

Time to dig it all up!

Neutral MNRose On Jun 26, 2007, MNRose from Chisholm, MN wrote:

I planted this plant in zone 3 because I knew I would never get a gunnera to take off. I was hoping our -40 winters would keep it's spreading in check but, alas, find myself pulling it out of the ground where it is spreading nearly daily. Tip: Plant it in a BIG planter underground so it doesn't get away from you!

Neutral abqturkey On Apr 19, 2006, abqturkey from Albuquerque, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

I don't grow this plant, but was doing some research... looking for an herbal antihistamine. "Butterbur" was mentioned as a natural antihistamine, but on further reading, several sources mentioned that parts of the plant are toxic to the liver and can even result in liver failure.

Neutral Shadyfolks On Sep 20, 2005, Shadyfolks from Chesterland, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have the variegated variety and it is striking. But beware were you plant this. I planted it next to the creek in sandy/rocky soil (Z5) and it was way too happy I moved it about 9-10 months after planting it and tried to take as much soil with it,(about 3-4x the original diameter) without disturbing the other plants. I did not replant the area just in case I needed to dig out any new growth. Well, today (3 months after removing the plant) I just dug out about 15 baby sprouts. I will wait now till spring to see what else comes up and will try Round-Up next.

Positive CatskillKarma On May 4, 2005, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

This plant is pretty invasive, and the leaves are far more attractive than the flowers. That said, it is spectacular in the right setting. I have it growing in a swampy area below my mountain home. The hillside surrounding it is filled with wild red raspberries, the thorns of which sometimes shred the humongous leaves on windy days. The flowers are among the first blooms in spring, and thus welcome, if a bit weedy looking. The plant grows maybe eight feet high and is highly visible from a distance, with some individual leaves being almost three feet long and half as wide. It gives a tropical, jungly appearance, but wilts a bit during dry spells. The surrounding area is filled in with wild plants--mostly inula (elecampane) and meadowsweet and some Joe Pye weed, all of which are suitable companions in scale.

Neutral Larry1940 On May 3, 2005, Larry1940 from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

Winter hardy in Portland, Oregon, mine have survived in pots with temperatures down to 16 F. They can be invasive, I double potted one in the ground, and it still escaped.

Positive CatskillKarma On Feb 4, 2005, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

I have been warned that this stuff is invasive, but it doesn't seem to spread here on my Catskill mountain top garden. It is next to a spring in a soggy area facing south with sun from mid morning until late afternoon. Very healthy leaves, with a wingspan of a couple of feet and stems four or five feet long. Half a dozen flowers or so emerge in early spring, shortly after the pussy willows. My petasites are at a distance from the house and road, and very dramatic viewed from that distance. The deer show no interest. I frequently find birds and other animals taking shelter under the leaves in heavy summer storms, which I find quite charming. It is tough enough to hold its own against a very aggressive wild raspberry patch on one side, although the raspberry thorns sometimes pierce the petasites leaves to interesting effect when the late afternoon sun backlights them.

Positive GardenGuyKin On Feb 3, 2005, GardenGuyKin from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is easily grown in shady areas does well with only morning sun. Requires regular to abundant water does not tolerate long dry periods during summer months.

Can become a difficult hard to control plant due to it's running rhizomes and can easily over power an area. After it flowers in spring it has large rounded leaves that I have measured 3' across and stems 3 - 4'.

Positive petasities On Feb 18, 2004, petasities from Wadena, MN (Zone 3b) wrote:

I am not sure if I have japonicus or some sort of giganticus but the species is an absolute wonder. Stems top-out at 6' on the happiest plants ,with 32" leaves. This is in the tough climate of zone 3b. The plant bed extends its margin by about 3' per year, but does not become invasive because it doesn't propigate by seed, here. Don't be fooled by rumors of edibility, however / Peeled and chopped stems still smelled too awful to cook after 3 chages of water. Yet, I'm a huge fan.

Positive gonedutch On Jun 16, 2003, gonedutch from Fairport, NY wrote:

This plant is a master of metamorphosis when it changes from an unimposing small flower stalk to the large mound of cloved foliage. Like its namesake Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), Sweet Coltsfoot also blooms before it shows any foliage. While the initial flower stalk is light-green with pale-yellow flowers the foliage displays a deep forest green color.

This is an ideal complement plant for shady leaf gardens (mine is under a European Beech) that include Hostas, Virginia Creeper, Pachysandra, Creeping Euonymus, Lenten Rose, European Ginger, Elephant Ear, Mayapple, Ligularia and Rodgersia. Around the sunny edges it tolerates some sun and recovers from droopiness quickly after shade returns.

Positive henryr10 On Apr 10, 2003, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Works well with Hosta (especially blues and golds) and Astilbe but only the largest species; it will overpower lesser plants.

Flags in the heat of the sun, but recovers nicely as shade returns. You can actually see the leaves plump up and recover.

As previously stated needs to be kept very moist, and will take sun if in a bog situation.

Neutral talinum On Apr 26, 2002, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

The flowers appear before the foliage on this large-leafed perennial. The mounds of foliage have long petioles. Leaves can get 16" wide. It grows best in constant moisture. It is not suitable for small gardens and can be difficult to eradicate. Slugs can be a problem.

Native to Japan and China.


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

Anniston, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Juneau, Alaska
Concow, California
San Diego, California
Marietta, Georgia
Sandpoint, Idaho
Hanna City, Illinois
Pekin, Illinois
Hobart, Indiana
Louisville, Kentucky (2 reports)
Taylorsville, Kentucky
Falmouth, Maine
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Thompsonville, Michigan
Westland, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rochester, Minnesota
Wadena, Minnesota
Ballwin, Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Stockton, New Jersey
Fairport, New York
West Kill, New York
Yonkers, New York
Chesterland, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Walterville, Oregon (2 reports)
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Memphis, Tennessee
Pocahontas, Tennessee
Leesburg, Virginia
Naselle, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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