Friday, April 06, 2007

Giant Japanese Butterbur (Petasites japonicus)

Giant Japanese Butterbur
Petasites japonicus var. giganteus
Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ay)

This isn’t a plant for faint-hearted gardeners or small gardens. I happen to have gotten some about 10 years ago at an aquatic plant nursery. I really didn’t know too much about it but luckily I sited it along a stream that has only a little soil and a lot of ledge rock. This has slowed the spreading as this plant is completely invasive. My patch has nowhere to go so it has been a nice addition to the garden. These flowers come out very early, sometimes when there is still a little snow on the ground. They die back making room for the real show, the giant leaves. All parts of this plant are toxic. The leaves can sometimes get 3 feet across and grow to a height of about 5 feet. That is why you need a lot of room. My patch has spread to about 15 feet long and 4 feet wide and that is all the room it has. It occasionally tries to grow across the small stream it borders but it is easily stopped there. It is great for a bold foliage accent and there are a few other types that have smaller leaves available. There is a certain novelty factor to having it in the garden.

I am suppose to do a transplanting job today and the ground is frozen. I wonder how that is going to work out. Lucky there is only a little frost in the top but isn’t going to make the job any easier.

Synonyms: Sweet Coltsfoot, Fuki


Ki said...

Wow, now that's a plant I can say I've never seen before. Very unusual with the bunched flowers bunched again to form a larger flower. Flowers in a flower.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Ki, I will post a photo of the leaves during the summer. You may have seen them before.

gillian said...

Are you sure it's poisonous? I'm pretty sure that when I lived in Japan, the first wild vegetable people ate in the spring was "fuki"--butterbur. Just the stems, which were blanched and peeled.
It tastes really peculiar, but not bad. You should try it!

Unknown said...

I live in Japan and we're just harvesting the fuki no tou (flowers of the fuki). They're bitter, but not toxic. Then, in summer, we look forward to eating the stalks which are delicious.
Anyway, just my 2 yen. :-)