Butterbur Sweet-coltsfoot

Fact SheetPetasites hybridus

Images of this species:

Common look-alikes:



Herbaceous perennial resembling rhubarb favors moist to wet areas. Roots have a tuberous base with extensive, fleshy creeping rhizomes. Rhizomes are blackish on the outside with white interiors.


Large, heart shaped leaves and thick fleshy stalks, span up to 3 feet across. Plants resemble rhubarb. Leaves do not fully emerge until after flowering has occurred. 


Pinkish flower stalks, composed of bundles of tiny pink radial flowers, emerge from underground in early spring. Blooming occurs before the leaves fully emerge and expand. Male and female flowers typically appear on different spikes.


Seeds are attached to feathery pappus (plumes of fine white bristles). In some conditions, seeds are sterile.


Ecological Threat

Invades wetlands, forests, forest edges, bogs, marshes, and other semi-shaded moist areas. It grows quickly and shades out native species.


Native to Europe.


Meadows, fields, disturbed areas, riverbanks, lakeshore

Life Cycle

Blooming occurs in spring before full leaf out. Male and female flowers typically appear on different spikes.

Management Options

This species is considered a watch list species. 

Mechanical Control

Due to the plants spreading rhizomes, dig or hand pull the entire plant's roots system. Monitor for re-sprouts. There is a high possibility of accidental spreading due to its ability to reproduce via root fragments. Dispose of plant debris in trash bags.

Chemical Control

Apply herbicides during the active growing season. Glyphosate can be used as a foliar spray, painted directly onto large leaves, or as spot treatment.

  • Be careful not to damage or kill nearby native plants when conducting management work. And when using herbicides, always follow the instructions on the label.


Photo Credit

5382461, William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

5382462, William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

Information Credit

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Butterbur sweet-coltsfoot

GoBotany, Butterbur sweet-coltsfoot