Winter Heliotrope

Poisonous Poisonous Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

This non native member of the Daisy family, Asteraceae, has flowers that track the sun during the day, hence the name Heliotrope.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Winter Heliotrope, Bog Rhubarb
Scientific Name Petasites fragrans
Season Start Jan
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The leaves are a rounded heart or kidney shape with very fine teeth around the edge and covered in hairs, especially on the underside of the leaf. They are evergreen and will present all year.


Has several florets of mauve/lilac to white flowers on each flower stem with individual flowers opening from the outside. It flowers from about mid winter to early spring. These are female flowers although there will be some sterile male flowers present. In the UK, Winter Heliotrope has sterile male flowers and because of this can only spread vegetatively. The individual flowers have five petals, in the middle are the purple female parts with a white stigma protruding from the middle.

Flower Buds

Before the flowers open they are wrapped in purple to green sepals.

Flower Stem

Has a hairy green stem forking off in several places leading to the florets.


Next to hedgerows, paths and beside country roads where the soil is quite wet and near to gardens it has escaped from.

Possible Confusion

Butterbur, Petasites hybridus, looks very similar and is related but much bigger than Winter Heliotrope with longer flower stems. The two are related.


Has a strong, heady smell of marzipan or as some describe it, vanilla, that can easily be sensed when walking past a flowering patch.


Fairly common.

Medicinal Uses

Has been used in homeopathy although it is toxic.
It has also been used in perfumes and cosmetics.


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