willn's picture

Common but what is it?

Observed: 13th January 2013 By: willn

Hi,I quite often see this plant but it's name has been eluding me for some time, seems to like edges of footpaths and road verges, leaves seem to vary between 10-25cm, looks like it is starting to flower. Any help much appreciated...

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) interacts


bobthebirder's picture


Often it is looked up in a book and identified as butterbur, a close relative but much larger and far less common in Dorset, although there is a good patch by the side of the road between Winterborne Steepleton and Winterborne St Martin.

Bob Ford

willn's picture

Brilliant thanks folks, found

Brilliant thanks folks, found it in my book and ID matches perfectly, seems the butterbur has much bigger leaves and doesn't flower until later in the year,will look out for that patch, thanks again!

p.s- if you're interested in name origins this is interesting: The flowers follow the sun as it tracks across a winters day, hence the name Heliotrope which is derived from the Greek Helios (ηλιος) meaning sun and tropos (τροπος) meaning 'turn' or 'direction'.