Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Giant Japanese Butterbur, Sweet Coltsfoot, Fuki
Petasites japonicus var. giganteus

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Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Petasites (pet-uh-SY-tees) (Info)
Species: japonicus var. giganteus

30 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Perennials

Height:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Hardiness:
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

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Winter

Foliage:
Herbaceous

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:
Non-patented

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

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 11 photos.
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Profile:

6 positives
2 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral quartzknee On Jun 7, 2014, quartzknee from Courtenay
Canada wrote:

This was planted, before my time, in a part of the yard that gets hot afternoon and evening sun. It wilts in the heat and perks up once shady. I'm zone 7a PNW...

We built a new larger raised bed where this was. Removed tons of the rhizome and buried it with at least 3 ft of clay dirt and debris. That was no match for it and now that it is tended to, it is quite happy. Maybe too happy.

We cut back several of the branches and will likely try to keep it weakened to try and control it. My hubby hates it but I am resigned to accept it and work with it. It IS rather striking. Planted some hostas nearby since it shades it's surroundings. Good news is the bugs eat it, rather than other things. The lettuce near it is amazing.

Negative butchdon On Apr 21, 2014, butchdon from Everett, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

We planted this last year in a new shade garden. It was not as shady as we thought and this plant suffered under the Seattle sun, such as it is.

Our main issue with this plant, is that it's invasive. It sent out runners that came up in the middle of other new plant roots. It hit the edging 4' away. There were new starts from this plant all over the place. I was going to move it to an area that was somewhat contained. I cleaned out the new area, planted a few of the new runners, took a few minutes to visualized what might happen, I got cold feet and left them in the wheelbarrow.

If this is what it can do after just one year, what would after it was really established. I don't remember what I paid for these, but considering how much work it would be to keep them in check, they are going in the recycling bin. I had considered giving it to my son who has has a large yard, but after reading some of the posts above, I decided against that too.

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

This plant is grown mainly for its dramatic, coarse foliage---the leaves are second only to the much less hardy Gunnera manicata. 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 is reported naturalized in Ontario and the Pacific Northwest.

Negative nekvt On Apr 1, 2013, nekvt from McIndoe Falls, VT wrote:

I have been battling this plant for 3 years now. Planted in a dark, moist spot on a hill under trees along the brook, about 14 years ago. For the first ten years, it was beautiful, sticking to an area that grew nothing else. Three years ago, it spread in a huge manner. Over a quarter acre and I am constantly digging, chopping, tracking. The electric company has come by to find out what it is, as they can see it from the air. I may get the state in to help eradicate it. And yes, it does smell. Not in a good way....something sort of chemical-ish. KEEP IN CONTAINERS!

Positive MrFritz On May 30, 2010, MrFritz from San Diego, CA wrote:

I live in downtown San Diego and have my Fuki growing in a container on my west facing balcony, which gets its fair share of afternoon sun. It is doing quite well as I give it water consistently. It is quite an impressive plant.

Positive giftgas On May 5, 2009, giftgas from Everson, WA (Zone 7b) wrote:

This plant is like something that fell from space - alien, fast growing and huge.

I've never seen a plant exhibit visible growth only an hour after sticking it in the ground until now.

I hope this plant spreads all over the place, and fills in the area that nothing else will grow in.

If you haven't seen this plant before, you won't know about "the smell"...but it has one. I can't place it, but it tickles something in the back of my mind from my childhood.

Is this plant really deer resistant? I don't know, but I've seen adult deer smell it and walk right by...sadly, it's usually the baby deer that you need to watch out for.

Negative BambooChic On Mar 4, 2009, BambooChic from Prattville, AL wrote:

Although I am deeply in love with this plant, I have had no luck in the many times and places I have tried to grow it here in S.C. AL. It will do well when I plant it out in March but it slowly withers and dies no matter what I do once the heat sets in here around May. Shame!

Positive dhomsher On Jul 2, 2008, dhomsher from Ithaca, NY wrote:

Invasive, yes! but the big leaves make a fine, dramatic backdrop for other plants. Mine are now spreading around under a bunch of autumn olive and quince trees, and since they get plenty of water, they thrive in both sun and shade, though they appear to prefer sun. Deer resistant plants are always welcome here, since we have herds of deer walking the streets, and these fit the bill.

Positive cscollins318 On Apr 27, 2007, cscollins318 from Hendersonville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I love the foliage, but it SPREADS! Either plant somewhere that it has room to grow or it will force it's way into anything around it.

Positive Mushroomgreg On Aug 9, 2006, Mushroomgreg from Seaside, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have recently planted some Fuki plants for a Japanese woman I am installing a garden for. She has treatments to remove the "aku" or lye from it. (Aku, spelled differently, means evil or wickedness. She claims that it cannot be eaten otherwise. It is commonly eaten in Japan after such treatment.

Positive lourspolaire On Jul 20, 2005, lourspolaire from Delray Beach, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I planted 5 bare roots of these petasites japonicus giganteus during a heat wave in July 2004. The bed sits under a huge cedar tree. It is in total shade, except for maybe 90 minutes in the morning and an hour at the end of the afternoon. Soil here (Montreal's west island, Quebec, Canada) is mostly clay.

Depending on the winters, we are located in a zone 5 or 4-B; it's hard to pinpoint exactly. These plants just love water. They would probably love the pond's edge but there is no shade there. Rain or shine, a 45-gallon barrel is filled with water EVERY day and it drains into the bed through a homemade gravity-driven irrigation system.

This plant is just a joy to have in the garden if, like me, you enjoy large, invasive, toxic, perennial plants. The huge leaves sit on top of a stalk that is 1 1/2 in. in diameter at the bottom and 3/4 in. diameter at the top. The stalks stand at least 3 feet tall.

The 5 bare roots I planted last year have yielded over 20 plants this spring and I was digging them out of the grass and planting them back into the bed just after the snow melted (April).

Oddly, the plant flowers before the leaves appear, just after the snow is gone. An 8-in. stalk is produced that is covered by really insignificant small white flowers. When the flowers die back, the leaves develop quickly. No weeds grow under there because the ground receives just about no light.

One day, a squirrel cut off a stem and ate quite a bit of it. I found the remains of the stalk one afternoon and a dead squirrel the next morning by my garden shed. Coincidence? I told you the plant is toxic. I have learned that the stalk contains an alcaloid that degrades the liver. There are recipes for cooking fuki on the internet but one shouldn't be courting liver failure.

Neutral GardenGuyKin On Feb 26, 2005, GardenGuyKin from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

I enjoy the foliage with this variegated petasites then in late winter early spring it blooms. The bloom appears before the leaves break ground here.
Draw backs are it can become invasive and requires plenty of water during the hot summer. Does well in a semi shaddy area and would most likely enjoy a boggy area.

Regional...

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

,
Vernon Rockville, Connecticut
Hanna City, Illinois
Sioux City, Iowa
Linwood, Kansas
Falmouth, Maine
Silver Spring, Maryland
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Harwich, Massachusetts
Edwardsburg, Michigan
Niles, Michigan
Chisholm, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Averill Park, New York
Ithaca, New York
New York City, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Eufaula, Oklahoma
Gearhart, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
North Augusta, South Carolina
Hendersonville, Tennessee
Pocahontas, Tennessee
Lindon, Utah
Mc Indoe Falls, Vermont
Lexington, Virginia
Everett, Washington
Seattle, Washington



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