Petasites japonicus   Giant Butterbur I

Petasites japonicus group Petasites japonicus single

You'd be disappointed by this "giant" which isn't actually as tall as some Petasites hybridus (Butterbur) to be seen by rivers in late spring. This one also grows by rivers but being an introduction from Japan it is dotted here and there and you have to know where to look. I had seen this plant about fifteen years ago growing by the same River Bollin but failed to find it last year.

Just as I was giving up again I spotted some suspicious clumps growing on an inaccessible river bank. From the opposite bank a telephoto shot revealed that the plants were indeed Petasites japonicus. As an aside, the telephoto feature of many modern digital cameras is so powerful that taking a shot of a distant plant allows you identify something which you can hardly see at all with the naked eye. The inaccessibility was because the river bank was the bottom of someone's garden. I was given permission by the owner and accompanied by the family dogs went down the the river's edge to take these photos. P. japonicus is dioecious but according to the experts only the male plants is found in the UK.

This was also the first true day of Spring in that temperatures were above 15 Celsius (63F) and there was sunshine as well.

P. japonicus is to be found dotted all over England, Wales and southern Scotland with no great concentrations anywhere. There isn't much to be found in either northern Scotland or Ireland.

Banks of River Bollin, Cheshire 31st March 2006

Added on March 31st 2006, modified 12th January 2007, updated February 28th 2011