50 Natives: Michigan: Petasites hybidus – Butterburr

by Rochelle Greayer

in 50 Natives, Blog of the Week

Deborah Silver has a new blog called Dirt Simple (which is great and worth a visit) — and she recently mentioned Butterburr in a post….a plant I am completely unfamiliar with, but now plan to become intimately familiar with.

Since living in England I have wanted to be able to grow the commonly seen (there) Gunnera. The closest thing I had ever seen was rhubarb. Gunnera, if you don’t know, has GIANT leaves that can make even an adult feel like they fell through some sort of Alice in Wonderland Hole. Gunnera will not survive in New England, so with disappointment, I had given up on the idea of an oversized garden to make us feel enclosed and ensconced in a beautiful lush plant world.

Enter Deborah’s post about Butterburr and I am on a hunt to buy it RIGHT NOW. Seems Butterburr (Petasites hybidus) is actually a native of Massachusetts (where I live) and Michigan (where she lives) and I think should be successful in my garden. I can’t wait! Look at this gorgeous picture from Deborah’s house….

Dobroah Silver Dirt Simple butterburr plants
image from Dirt Simple.

I want edges to grassy areas and walkways that look like Picture #3 and Picture #9. BTW, I think Butterburr is actually one of those plants that gave me ‘vegetation disorientation’ (I love that term– sounds so medical…but we just made it up) in Sweden…I thought they were strange wild rhubarb…

I am reading that they are a bit of work to keep under control, but I am up for the challenge… have you grown these? I am wondering if a mulch filled trench (that can be seasonally dredged) might do the trick? (that was recommended to me for bamboo control by a local bamboo grower)

butterburr mosaic

1. Petasites hybridus – Groot hoefblad, Butterbur, 2. Huge and leafy!, 3. More and more of them…, 4. Petasites hybridus (Butterbur) Cromford Canal, 5. Petasites hybridus — Foliage, 6. Petasites hybridus, 7. petasites japonica, 8. big hand, bigger leaf, 9. Petasites hybridus, 10. Groot Hoefblad -Petasites Hybridus, 11. Petasites hybridus, 12. Common Butterbur Petasites hybridus

I am so excited to give these a try…if I find success in growing them myself, I feel as if I will have a new tool in my design arsenal…they are so dramatic and exciting, sure to wow clients.