Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter Heliotrope

This stuff is an imposter from south, brought over by nineteenth century gardeners as ground cover. As you can see from the picture it does what it was intended to do, and nothing else is growing where it has spread. It is now naturalised throughout the UK, apart from northern Scotland. Once established it's a bugger to eradicate.
The plant is dioecious, but only the male plant is found in this country. How does it managed to spread? It is found largely along roadways (as in this example, around the corner from our house) or water courses. Spread is through the dumping of garden waste and moving of earth containing the rhizomes. These survive mutilation and grow into new plants. It's called winter heliotrope or Petasites fragrans and the flowers smell of vanilla when out between November and early March. The rest of the time just the kidney-shaped leaves are seen, which people can confuse with butterbur or coltsfoot. As you may have discerned from the flowers, it's a member of the Asteraceae family, just like the daisy and dandelion.
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