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Petasites japonicus - (Siebold.&Zucc.)Maxim.

Common Name Sweet Coltsfoot, Japanese sweet coltsfoot, Butterbur
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist woods and thickets[58].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Petasites japonicus Sweet Coltsfoot, Japanese sweet coltsfoot, Butterbur

Petasites japonicus Sweet Coltsfoot, Japanese sweet coltsfoot, Butterbur


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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late winter. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Petasites japonicus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1.5 m (5ft in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in flower in February, and the seeds ripen in March. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Nardosmia japonica.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover; Meadow; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Stem
Edible Uses:

Leaf stalks - cooked and used like rhubarb[1, 2, 46, 116]. The stems can be up to 1.2 metres long[104]. They can be boiled and seasoned, pickled and used in winter soups or preserved in miso[183]. They can be boiled, dipped in cold water then peeled and baked - they have a pleasant fragrant taste[206]. Flower buds cooked or used as a flavouring[1, 22, 46, 61, 105]. A slightly bitter yet agreeable flavour[116, 206], they are much prized in Japan[183]. They can be eaten whilst still green with miso or boiled down in soy sauce[183]. The young flowering stems can be eaten cooked[206].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 250 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 19.5g; Fat: 2.8g; Carbohydrate: 52.8g; Fibre: 19.4g; Ash: 25g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 1194mg; Phosphorus: 556mg; Iron: 2.8mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 917mg; Potassium: 12500mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 278mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.56mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.56mg; Niacin: 5.56mg; B6: 0mg; C: 56mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiasthmatic  Antispasmodic  Expectorant  Miscellany  Poultice

The plant (though the exact part of the plant used is not specified) is antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, expectorant and poultice[147]. A decoction is used in the treatment of chronic coughing and pulmonary 'deficiency', laboured or difficult breathing and asthma, constant sputum formation and pulmonary tuberculosis[147].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The leaves of the sub-species P. japonicus giganteus are used as umbrellas by Japanese children[187]. The leaf stalks can be used as walking sticks[206]. Plants can be grown as ground cover in damp shady places[206]. They are too invasive for most gardens and should only be used where they have plenty of room[208].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container, Ground cover, Massing, Woodland garden. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1], but prefers a deep fertile humus-rich soil that is permanently moist but not stagnant, succeeding in shade, semi-shade or full sun[200]. Requires a moist shady position[187]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. A very invasive plant, too rampant for anything other than the wild garden[187, 200]. Its roots are very difficult to eradicate[200]. The sub-species P. japonicus giganteus has huge leaves up to 1.5 metres across on stems 2 metres tall[187]. It has a poorer flavour than the species type[206]. Sometimes cultivated in E. Asia as a food plant[1, 58]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Wetlands plant, Flower characteristics are unknown. Petasites japonicus giganteus (Petasites japonicus subsp. giganteus F.Schmidt ex Kitam) is a larger version of Petasites japonicus commonly know as giant fuki. It can grow in similar hardiness zones to fuki but can grow in wetter conditions and tolerate more sun. It can grow to 5 ft (1.5m). The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 5. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons [1-2]. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in early spring. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the compost to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: Anhui Sheng, China, Fujian Sheng, Henan Sheng, Hokkaidô, Honshu, Hubei Sheng, Japan, Jiangsu Sheng, Jiangxi Sheng, Korea, Kurile Islands, Kyushu, Ryukyu Islands, Sakhalin, Shaanxi Sheng, Shandong Sheng, Shikoku, Sichuan Sheng, South, Zhejiang Sheng,Russian Federation.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Petasites albusButterburPerennial0.6 4-8 FLMHFSNM212
Petasites frigidusSweet Coltsfoot, Arctic sweet coltsfoot, Arrowleaf sweet coltsfoot, Golden Palms Coltsfoot, ButterbPerennial0.2 6-10 FLMHFSNMWe212
Petasites hybridusButterbur, Pestilence wortPerennial1.0 4-8 FLMHFSNMWe03 
Petasites hyperboreusArctic Sweet ColtsfootPerennial0.2 4-8 FLMHFSNMWe212
Petasites palmatusSweet Butterbur, Golden Palms Coltsfoot, Sweet Coltsfoot, ButterburPerennial0.4 6-10 FLMHFSNMWe21 
Petasites saggitatusArrowleaf Sweet ColtsfootPerennial0.2 - FLMHFSNMWe21 
Petasites speciosa Perennial0.0 - FLMHFSNMWe20 
Petasites vitifoliusArctic sweet coltsfootPerennial0.6 0-0 FLMHFSNMWe10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Brian Blanthorn   Tue Mar 18 2008

I think this should have a hazard warning it contains alkaloids but so do a number of our very common foods Young leaves are also eaten ( cooked ) Cooking does seem to reduce this I do not pretend to be a exepert in this and I think could do with futher research when you reviw the info Heres what I have so far, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=206 Quote xxx How does cooking affect alkaloid content in nightshade foods? Steaming, boiling, and baking all help reduce the alkaloid content of nightshades. Alkaloids are only reduced, however, by about 40-50% from cooking. For non-sensitive individuals, the cooking of nightshade foods will often be sufficient to make the alkaloid risk from nightshade intake insignificant. However, for sensitive individuals, the remaining alkaloid concentration may be enough to cause problems. xxxx Also lists many other plants like potatoe / tomatoes with alkaloid in them Another site with sensible info on "toxic" common everday food http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-1g.shtml A search with petasites japonicus toxicity cooking, or petasites japonicus cooking Individuals with arthritis can be affected by this Thanks for a truly excellent databace Brian Blanthorn

David Freeman   Thu May 8 2008

May have more health benefits than previously thought. Extracts useful in treatment of brain diseases in combination with other elements. Patent information request call 800-648-6787.

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