COMMON NAME : Butterbur

FAMILY  :        Asteraceae  (Daisy Family)


Butterbur leaves are similar to coltsfoot leaves but the habitats for the two plants are different.

Butterbur : wet meadows, damp open woodland, stream sides.

Coltsfoot : waysides and hedge banks, weed of arable land, quarries, disused mine-workings, dunes, hillsides,

scree and stream shingle.

PARTS USED :  leaves, stems, flowers and sometimes also the root.


Butterbur leaves were once thought to be used to wrap butter in warm weather. The plant had a great reputation in the 16th and 17th century both in England and on the continent for use against the Plague and was once known as plague flower.

Butterbur has the largest leaves of any plant in Great Britain when fully grown (up to 3ft diameter) The name of

the genus, Petasites, is derived from Petasos, the Greek word for the felt hats worn by shepherds.

The seeds were once used for love divination :

The seeds of Butterdock must be sowed by a young unmarried woman half an hour before sunrise on a Friday morning, in a lonesome place. She must strew the seeds gradally on the grass saying the following words –

“ I sow, I sow! Then my own dear, come here come here and mow and mow!” – The seed being scattered she

will see her future husband mowing with a scythe at a short distance from her. She must not be frightened, for if

she says “Have mercy on me” he will immediately vanish! Said to be infallible!

Butterbur is diaphoretic, diuretic and mucolytic.  It is also antispasmodic and analgesic and may also contain cardioactive substances. In France it is recommended for irritable cough and for irritable skin conditions but

probably its most important use is for the pain of gallbladder colic.

Butterbur root was used medicinally as a heart stimulant, acting both as a cardiac tonic and also as a diuretic.

Used as a remedy in fevers, asthma, colds and urinary complaints.

Traditionally used to treat stammering in children.

It is also said to promote menstruation. It is used to treat gallbladder problems, irritable stomach, duodenitis, migrainous headache, especially associated with tension and indigestion.

Extracts of  butterbur root are used in some over-the-counter preparations for treating migraines and allergies


·        Alkaloid senecionine is potentially toxic

·        Tannin

·        Mucilage

·        Resin

·        Volatile oil

White butterbur (Petasites albus) is found in waste places, roadsides and woods, with more of a concentration in eastern Scotland. It has smaller leaves than P. officinalis, which are white and woolly underneath with more

prominent irregular teeth.