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Petasites: Wikis


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Petasites hybridus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Senecioneae
Genus: Petasites

About 15-20 species; see text

The plants commonly referred to as Butterbur are found in the daisy family Asteraceae in the genus Petasites. They are mostly quite robust plants with thick, creeping underground rhizomes and large Rhubarb-like leaves during the growing season. Another common name for many species of this genus is Sweet Coltsfoot.



The short spikes of flowers are produced just before the leaves in spring, emerging with only a few elongated basal bracts and are usually green, flesh coloured or dull white depending on species.

Butterburs are found in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. They prefer moist environments such as riverbanks, marshes and ditches.

Petasites is very closely related to the genus Tussilago (Coltsfoot), and also related to the huge genus Senecio.

Medicinal uses

Butterbur was used by native Americans as a remedy for headache and inflammation. Some Butterbur contains petasin[1] and isopetasin, with the highest concentrations occurring in the root. Butterbur has been reported to be effective in reducing the occurrence or severity of migraine headaches.[1] Several mainstream double-blind studies have shown that extracts of Butterbur petasin and/or isopetasin are effective both in preventing and in relieving migraine, with the best results coming in more severe cases [2]. Additionally, a peer-reviewed journal published a Swiss study showing Butterbur extract to be an effective treatment for hay fever without the sedative effect of the antihistamine cetirizine [3].

Butterbur naturally contains components called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. They are toxic to the liver and may cause cancers. The concentrations are often highest in the rhizomes and stalks, and lowest in the leaves, and may vary depending on where the plants are grown. Butterbur extract should be taken only when prepared by a reputable laboratory. Long-term health effects and interaction with other drugs have not been studied.

Selected species

White butterbur

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include nasal obstruction, sneezing, clear nasal discharge, headache and itchy, watery eyes. This condition, which occurs during the spring, summer and early autumn and usually lasts for several weeks, is caused by pollens that enter the nasal passages and cause a hypersensitivity reaction. Conventional treatments include oral decongestants, antihistamines, topical steroid sprays and desensitization.

Butterbur is a perennial shrub that grows in Europe, Asia and North America. It is used primarily for migraine prevention and for chronic cough or asthma.

The main active constituents are petasin and isopetasin which are believed to reduce smooth muscle spasm and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Butterbur also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are associated with liver toxicity and carcinogenesis and considered unsafe. Extracts are available in which the pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed.

Butterbur is often not the first complementary and alternative (CAM) treatment used for seasonal allergies such as hayfever. In fact, butterbur is in the same botanical family as ragweed and could theoretically trigger an allergic reaction.


  • Petasites x vitifolius

In popular culture

In the manga Shaman King, the young Ainu shaman Horohoro dreams of planting a vast field of Butterbur from the east to the west coast of Hokkaidō.


External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids II
Ordo: Asterales
Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Asteroideae
Tribus: Senecioneae
Genus: Petasites
Species: P. albus - P. × alpestris - P. amplus - P. × celakovskyi - P. doerfleri - P. fominii - P. formosanus - P. fragrans - P. frigidus - P. georgicus - P. glacialis - P. hybridus - P. hyperboreus - P. × intercedens - P. japonicus - P. kablikianus - P. × lorezianus - P. paradoxus - P. pyrenaicus - P. radiatus - P. × rechingeri - P. rubellus - P. × sachalinensis - P. × sagittatus - P. sibiricus - P. spurius - P. tatewakianus - P. tricholobus


Petasites Mill.

Vernacular names

Česky: Devětsil
Српски / Srpski: Репух
Dansk: Hestehov
Deutsch: Pestwurz
Eesti: Katkujuur
English: Butterbur
Español: Petasites
Français: Pétasite
Italiano: Farfaraccio
Latviešu: Tūsklape
Lietuvių: Šaukštis
Nederlands: Hoefblad
日本語: フキ属
Polski: Lepiężnik
Português: Petasites
Русский: Белокопытник
Suomi: Ruttojuuri
Svenska: Skråp


Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Category:Petasites on Wikimedia Commons.

Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Petasites

Petasites is a genus of herbs with leaves in the shape of a heart in the family Asteraceae. The common english name of petasites is Butterbur. Plants of this genus grow near rivers and other water places in Europe, Asia and North America.

File:Petasites frigidus var palmatus
Petasites frigidus var. palmatus

In general, the leaves are very big. His root is very long and grows very quick. Flowers are white, yellow, white-yellow or white-red, they are small and in a great number.

Butterbur is used in medical purposes, but there is a poison in all parts of the plant.

Some species of Butterbur are cultivated as a garden plant.

Other websites

For more multimedia, go to Category:Petasites.
Wikispecies has an entry on: Petasites


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