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Butterbur ~ Petasites hybridus Plant Care Guide


Common Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe and northern Asia. The flowers are produced in the early spring, before the leaves appear; they are pale pink, with several inflorescences clustered on a 5–20 cm stem. The leaves are large, on stout 80–120 cm tall stems, round, with a diameter of 40–70 cm.

It is also called Bog rhubarb, Devil’s hat and Pestilence wort. Synonyms include P. officinalis, P. ovatus and P. vulgaris.

The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper called it “a great preserver of the heart and reviver of the spirits”. Its many uses in folk medicine include applications as a diuretic and muscle relaxant, and to treat coughs, fever, wounds, stammering, headaches, asthma and stress. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific research.

Preliminary trials have shown a preparation of Butterbur root to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.[1] A commercial extract Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) has proved helpful for allergic rhinitis[2][3] An evidence-based 2005 systematic review including written and statistical analysis of scientific literature, expert opinion, folkloric precedent, history, pharmacology, kinetics/dynamics, interactions, adverse effects, toxicology, and dosing is available from the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.


How to Grow Butterbur


The butterbur (petasites hybridus) is a perennial plant with Asian origins. It is best known for it’s herbal qualities. Root extracts from the plant are often used to treat pain, spasms, fever, migraines and asthma. Another common name for the butterbur plant is “sweet coltsfoot.” The plant grows best in wet marshy soil. The butterbur blooms in the spring and grows lush foliage in the summer months. The plant thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 4 to 9. On average, the plant grows up to 3 feet wide and 9 feet tall.

1 Locate a spot that is well moistened to plant your butterbur seeds. For best results, the planting location should be lightly shaded or partially shaded. Be sure the area has enough room for your butterbur to spread and grow.

2 Check the planting location to ensure the soil has a pH level ranging from 5.6 to 7.8. The soil can be of a sandy, loamy or clay make-up.

3 Plant your butterbur seeds in a hole that is ¼ to ½ inch deep. Cover your seeds with soil.

4 Plant the remainder of your butterbur seeds. When planting, leave at least 5 feet of space between each hole. The extra space is needed because the butterbur is a wide spreading plant. The leaves alone can extend up to 2 feet wide. Once it starts to grow, it rapidly spreads throughout your garden.

5 Feed your butterbur a dose of fertilizer once every 25 days during the summer months. Be sure the fertilizer is has the proper balance of nitrogen, phosporus and potassium. For maximum growth, use a fertilizer ratio of 16-4-8.

6 Water your butterbur plant once every two to three weeks to ensure the soil remains moist. If the soil still dries out between waterings, more frequent waterings are necessary.

Things You Will Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Water


  • Only butterbur root extract that has been chemically processed and detoxified can be safely consumed internally. Otherwise, all parts of the plant are highly poisonous and should never be internally consumed.


About the Author

Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and “Truth & Church Magazine.” Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.

See Also …

Butterbur: The Versatile Plant with a Rich History in Herblore

Petasites hybridus –

How to Grow Butterbur

herbs at a glance


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