Butterbur: how to care and plant in the open field

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Butterbur: how to care and plant in the open field
Butterbur: how to care and plant in the open field

Description of the butterbur plant, agrotechnics of planting and care in a personal plot, breeding rules, possible difficulties in care, interesting notes and application, types.

Butterbur (Petasites) belongs to the genus included in the vast Asteraceae family, also called Asteraceae. In the genus scientists, according to various sources, there are from 17 to 20 species, the native area of ​​natural distribution of which falls on all lands of the Northern Hemisphere, where a temperate climate prevails. This includes all European regions, Mediterranean countries, North African territories, the Caucasus and Siberia, as well as the Far East, East Asia and even the North American continent. There are also types of butterbur that grow almost to the subarctic regions.

The genus contains such species, the distribution of which is quite wide, others are considered endemic, that is, in nature they grow only in a small, strictly limited area. Plants prefer damp places (ravines and lowlands), coastal areas of rivers, streams, lakes or swamps. At the same time, butterbur grows so that they form difficult-to-pass thickets.

Family name Asteraceae and Asteraceae
Growth duration Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Reproduction methods Seeds and dividing the bush
Landing period in open ground Last week of May or early June
Landing rules For the position of seedlings at a distance of 30-50 cm
Priming Lightweight, any looseness, nourishing and moisturized
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or 5-6 (slightly acidic)
Illumination level Semi-shaded place or with dense shade, east or west orientation is possible
Humidity level Abundant and regular watering
Special care requirements Top dressing in early spring
Height options 0.3–2 m
Flowering period Early spring
Type of inflorescences or flowers Shield-shaped or racemose inflorescences formed by basket inflorescences, rarely single baskets
Color of flowers Greenish yellowish to red
Fruit type Single-seeded achene
The timing of fruit ripening May June
Decorative period Spring
Application in landscape design Group plantings in parks and in the background of flower beds, to shelter garden buildings
USDA zone 3–7

Butterbur got its scientific name thanks to the ancient Greek term "petasos", which has the designation "wide-brimmed hat" or precisely "petas" - a hat with wide brims in Ancient Greece. All this indicates that the plant has rather wide leaf blades in the root zone. So this representative of the flora was called by the ancient Greek physician and naturalist Dioscorides (40-90 AD) in his famous work "On Medicinal Substances", published in the 1st century AD. Among the people, you can hear such names as burdock and kamchuga grass and plague grass (because of medicinal properties), swearing and podbel, king-grass and royal or plague root.

All types of butterbur are perennials with a herbaceous vegetation. The height of the stems can vary in the range of 0.3–2 m, but these indicators will directly depend on the species and growing conditions of the specimen. The rhizome has a cord-like shape and grows creeping, tuberous thickenings are present at the nodes. The location of the rhizome is superficial or in the upper layer of the soil. Thin root processes originate from the nodes.The diameter of the rhizome also directly depends on the species, and can vary within 1–30 mm, while its length will be 1.5 m. The distribution of rhizomes throughout the adjacent territory occurs at a high speed. Podbelo in terms of growth is characterized by high aggressiveness.

Butterbur has thick and succulent shoots, the surface of which is covered with scaly and stalk-like leaves. The growth of the stems begins in March and the formation of inflorescences occurs on their tops. Until flowering begins, the shape of the shoots resembles morel mushrooms. When the flowering at the podbelo is completed, the shoots still continue their development and their height increases 2–3 times. After fruiting in the summer is over completely, the shoots die off.

Butterbur bloom can begin in early spring or in April-May (this is due to climatic conditions), immediately when the snow cover leaves the soil, and if it grows in areas where temperatures are positive in winter, then you can see flowers in the period of January- Martha. In this case, the leaves appear later or simultaneously with the flowers. The leaf plates of the king-grass have heart-shaped or kidney-shaped outlines and are concentrated in the root area. Occasionally, the shape of the leaves can be pinnately dissected. Leaves are attached to long petioles. Their size also depends on the type of plant, the largest are observed in Japanese butterbur (Petasites japonicus), the leaf width of which is 1.5 m, and the petiole reaches the 2-meter mark in length.

A number of butterbur species are dioecious plants (that is, only female or male flowers form on one specimen). The shape of the corolla of the flower is tubular, approaching the apex, and is characterized by the presence of an elongated reed limb. From the buds, dense basket inflorescences are formed, which, in turn, at the tip of the peduncle are connected to the inflorescence, which takes a racemose or corymbose shape. But, for example, in the species of glacial butterbur (Petasites glacialis), the inflorescences remain single baskets. The color of the petals in flowers can range from greenish yellow to reddish.

After pollination occurs, the butterbur fruits begin to ripen in the form of single-seeded achenes with a slightly ribbed surface. The fruits are cylindrical in shape and are characterized by the presence of a long tuft. Seed ripening occurs in most of the species in the period from May to June. When the achene opens, the seeds are picked up by the wind, and they are carried by water or by means of water.

The plant is characterized by unpretentious care, and can also be used both in decorating a personal plot and as a medicinal cult.

Agricultural technology for planting and caring for butterbur in the open field

Butterbur blooms
  1. Landing place Kamchuga grass is recommended to be selected with great care, since the plant prefers the proximity of the water element (rivers, lakes, streams or swamps) or the close occurrence of groundwater. Butterbur perfectly tolerates both light shading and thick shade. You can plant in an eastern or western location so that the plantings are illuminated only for a few hours a day by direct sunlight, but not at noon.
  2. Priming when planting butterbur, it must be moist, which will be the key to its successful growth and flowering. The nutritional value of the substrate is also encouraged. Soil acidity indicators should be neutral with a pH of 6, 5-7 or slightly acidic pH 5-6. Looseness is not an important factor when growing podbelo, the plant will accept both light and dense soils.
  3. Planting butterbur should be carried out depending on what will be landed.If there are seedlings, then the best time will be when return frosts recede (in different territories it is different, but approximately at the end of May or with a summer drive). A planting hole is dug in such a way that the root system of a plant or a pot with a seedling can easily fit into it and there is a little free space around. After that, the voids around the seedling are filled with prepared soil mixture. Its surface is slightly compressed to remove air and abundant watering is carried out. Since butterbur is characterized by aggressive growth, it is recommended to take measures to restrict the roots at the very beginning, rather than take control measures later. To do this, the seedling can be placed in a plastic or metal container without a bottom, or in the planting hole along the perimeter, dug plastic (slate) sheets to a depth of 60–80 cm. Since the bushes of Kamchuga grass have large leaves, so that later the plants do not interfere with each other, they are placed at a distance of at least 30-50 cm.
  4. General advice on care. Although when growing butterbur, its aggressiveness towards neighbors in the area is noticed, but in the first years of growth, the tsar-grass plants are characterized by rather modest height parameters. To prevent weeds from clogging the seedlings, it is recommended to carry out regular weeding, as well as to loosen the soil around.
  5. Wintering when growing butterbur on a backyard, it will not cause problems, since such plants perfectly live in nature to the very subarctic belt. Shelter for such plantings in the garden will not have to be provided. In this case, the entire above-ground part dies off and it is recommended to cut it to the ground surface. As the inflorescences wither, the peduncles should be removed, which will be a warning for the self-seeding of the plague grass.
  6. Watering when caring for butterbur, this is the factor to which it is recommended to pay considerable attention, since the plant is hygrophilous. If the plant has enough moisture in excess, then it will grow larger. Soil moistening is carried out often, since due to the large size of the leaves, moisture evaporates quickly. If the weather is hot and dry, then the foliage begins to wilt, but with the arrival of the evening hours, it recovers.
  7. Fertilizers when growing butterbur, it is not required to apply regularly. Only after the snow melts will have to mulch the soil around the bushes, whitened with peat or compost, and they saturate the substrate with all the microelements necessary for growth and flowering.
  8. Procurement of raw materials for butterbur. For medicinal purposes, the roots and leaves growing in the root zone are useful. Usually, leaf plates are torn off until the time when reddish spots begin to appear on their surface - the period of July-August is the best time. Drying is carried out outdoors under a canopy or in rooms with good ventilation. The layer with which the collected material is laid out should be small so that it does not dry out. When the drying is completed, the raw material acquires a faint aroma, brittleness and its taste has a bitter sliminess. When harvesting the roots of butterbur, the digging is carried out in early autumn. Then the roots are washed under running water, cleaned and cut into small pieces. Drying is carried out according to the above rules. After the medicinal material is completely dried, it is folded in paper bags or stored in glass containers.
  9. The use of butterbur in landscape design. Since the king-grass plant has rather attractive leaves, it is actively grown in park areas and in personal plots. In addition, knowing that such plantings are capable of suppressing weeds, they are planted in free areas, decorating buildings, fences or garden buildings.Also, the value of the plague grass is its interesting inflorescences, which will decorate the garden in early spring. Thanks to a special love for water, butterbur can be planted in lowlands or in places where moisture accumulates from melting snow or precipitation. Suitable coastal areas of artificial or natural reservoirs. The best neighborhood for kamchuga grass will be the placement of plantings of elecampane or hogweed, comfrey and rhubarb, that is, plants that create an aura of natural nature in the garden. You can plant podbela bushes next to deciduous shrubs with spreading crowns or under large trees.

See also the rules for planting and caring for baptisia outdoors.

Breeding rules for butterbur

Butterbur in the ground

To grow plague grass on your site, you should use the seed or vegetative method. The latter is understood as jigging parts of the root or dividing the bush.

Propagation of butterbur with seeds

Sowing is possible to carry out, either immediately after their ripening in the fall, or with the arrival of spring directly to the flower beds, or to grow seedlings. When sowing in open ground, a bed is prepared: it is dug up in advance, the soil is cleaned of the remnants of the roots of other plants and weeds, then you can add a little compost to the soil to increase the nutritional value and dig everything thoroughly again. Plague grass seeds are spread on the surface and sprinkled with a small layer of the same soil mixture. After that, watering is carried out using a watering can with a sprinkler nozzle.

When growing seedlings from butterbur seeds, sowing is carried out in late winter or early March. For this, light and nutritious soil is poured into the seedling box, for example, a mixture of river sand and peat, taken in equal parts. After sowing, a thorough moistening of the soil surface is carried out, and the container is covered with a film to create a greenhouse effect (approximate temperature 20-24 degrees and high humidity). Until sprouts appear, it is recommended to carry out daily ventilation and, when the soil surface dries up, spray from a spray bottle.

Butterbur seedlings will have to wait 7–20 days to appear. Then the shelter can be removed and the seedlings can be transferred to a more illuminated place, for example, on the sill of the southern window. When a pair of true leaf blades unfolds on the seedlings of the king-grass, a dive is performed in separate pots. To facilitate the subsequent transplantation into open ground, it is recommended to use cups made of pressed peat, then the plants are not removed from them, but placed together with them in the planting hole.

When return frosts recede at the end of May, you can transplant seedlings into open ground. Flowering in this case can be expected after 3-4 years from the date of transplantation.

Propagation of butterbur by root cuttings

This breeding method has consistently yielded positive results. The beginning of autumn is suitable for such an operation. According to experienced gardeners, planting outlets in the spring is not always successful. To carry out such reproduction, you should dig out the rhizome and divide it into parts so that the length of the segments is 5–7 cm. After that, the planting of the podbelo is carried out immediately in order to prevent drying out. When planting is complete, it is recommended to water abundantly. Until the first frosts come and the temperature drops significantly, the king-grass cuttings will have time to grow well and buds will form on them, which, with the arrival of spring, will become a source of new shoots.

Possible difficulties in caring for butterbur in the garden

Butterbur grows

Despite the fact that the king-grass does not suffer from diseases that usually suffer from many garden "inhabitants", but since it requires damp or well-moisturized places for planting, the plant begins to suffer from slugs, snails and caterpillars, which are attracted by such an environment a habitat.In order for the foliage not to turn into a "leaky colander", you will have to use insecticidal preparations that give a positive result in the fight against pests. Such means are insecticides with a wide spectrum of action - Aktara, Actellik, Fundazol and the like.

Read also about possible difficulties when growing arnica outdoors

Interesting notes about butterbur, the use of the plant

Butterbur flowering

Species belonging to the genus Kamchuga grass are the first link in many food chains. For example, caterpillars of a large number of butterfly species, such as the swallowtail (Papilio machaon), feed on the foliage of the plant, and in early spring, butterbur flowers can provide their nectar and pollen to bees.

People's healers have known about the medicinal properties of the royal root since ancient times. Such evidence can be found in the remains of a plant in a mining settlement on the Australian continent, dating back to prehistoric times. The leaves and roots of butterbur are the basis for medicinal drugs. Water tinctures were usually made. Such drugs are recommended to be taken for diseases associated with the respiratory system, they are especially effective when coughing. Such a tincture works well as an anthelmintic. If there were edematous places or wounds on the human body, well-crushed fresh foliage was applied to them.

Poultices made from sheet plates of the mother bed helped relieve pain caused by rheumatism or gout. For this, we used such species from the genus of butterbur as hybrid (Petasites hybridus) and false (Petasites spurius). The plant got such a name as "plague grass" due to the fact that in the Middle Ages doctors tried to treat this terrible infectious disease, since the leaves contained disinfecting compounds. Although the plague marks (buboes) decreased in size, this representative of the flora could not be completely cured.

Official medicine became interested in butterbur due to the fact that in the course of studies carried out by scientists from Sweden and Germany, it became clear that the plant contains substances such as petazine, isopetazine and S-petazine. But soon there was a problem about the preparation of medicinal raw materials from the king-grass, so that the content of toxic substances was minimal. For this, breeders began to breed hybrid varieties, but the greatest efficiency in this matter turned out to be the ability to achieve by chemical purification of the extract obtained from podbel.

Contraindications for the use of drugs based on butterbur are the high content of carcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the plant, which have a toxic effect on the liver and contribute to the occurrence of venous-occlusive disease and even cancer. The maximum dosage of the preparation based on the plague grass is only 1 μg per day. But you should not use such drugs for pregnant women, patients with severe liver and kidney diseases. Side effects that can occur when taking Kamchuga herb medications include belching or gastrointestinal problems.

It is curious that, despite the toxicity of some species of the people living in the arctic zones of the planet, they use in cooking, derived from the genus of butterbur, for example, the cold species (Petasites frigidus). Young flowering stems are used, which are somewhat similar in taste to celery, young foliage is used raw, the rhizomes are fried.

On the lands of Japan, such a species as Japanese butterbur (Petasites japonicus) has long been recognized as a vegetable crop and is grown for food needs. In spring, inflorescences are collected, which can be boiled or fried in oil, leaf plates are good boiled or canned, then they go to make sushi.Even in the menu of restaurants in Russia and other countries that represent Japanese cuisine, you can find this plant under the terms "swamp rhubarb" or "fuki".

Types and forms of butterbur

In the photo Butterbur wide

Butterbur wide (Petasites amplus)

distributed in a rather narrow natural area covering Russia and Japan. It is endemic to the Sakhalin-Kuril-North Japanese region. For growth, preference is given to the shores of large and small waterways, floodplain forests, lowlands of mountain slopes; this type of podbelo is found at the foot of sea terraces and on outcrops.

A perennial plant with an elongated branched rhizome. Butterbur stalks are wide in height and reach one and a half meters. As soon as the snow melts in the spring, peduncles are visible above the ground, bearing compacted, rounded inflorescences in the form of spikelets. Inflorescences are formed by small whitish-yellow baskets. At the end of spring, the time comes for the development of powerful leaf plates, the diameter of which is 0.6 m. The shape of the leaves is rounded. The leaves are attached to elongated cuttings, reaching a length of 0.7–1.5 m. The foliage dies off after the first autumn frosts.

The best varieties of butterbur are widely recognized:

  1. Variegatus (Variegatus), characterized by large leaves and a pattern of irregular yellow spots.
  2. Purpureus - as the name implies, it has a reddish tint of foliage.

Wide butterbur is recommended for landscaping park areas and personal plots, when planting in clumps. The soil is recommended to be well-drained and nutritious, planting is carried out in moist places.

In the photo Japanese butterbur

Japanese butterbur (Petasites japonicus)

characterized by high decorativeness. Perennial with creeping stems, not exceeding the height of 45 cm. Recommended for landscape design as a ground cover, characterized by a high growth rate and the ability to suppress weeds. Flowers in inflorescences have a pale yellow color, and they are formed before large leaf plates that take a arrow-shaped shape. Flowering occurs before May.

In the photo, Butterbur hybrid

Hybrid butterbur (Petasites hybridus)

A plant that is easy to find in the coastal areas of our areas or at the bottom of ravines. The color of the flowering stem and leaf plates, which cover it very densely, is greenish-beetroot. At first, the spike-shaped inflorescence at its apex is compacted, but gradually they acquire the shape of an elongated brush. The color of flowers in the inflorescence is dirty pink. The shape of the leaves is rounded heart-shaped, the foliage rests on a grayish color substrate. Its height reaches 70 cm.

In the photo Butterbur smooth

Butterbur smooth (Petasites radiatus)

may occur under the name Nardosmia smooth (Nardosmia laevigata). Native lands fall on the territory of Europe (middle and arctic zones), the middle and southern Urals, as well as Siberia. The plant in nature prefers the banks of waterways, pebbles, shoals and can grow directly in water. It is characterized by a creeping elongated and rather thick rhizome, the thickness of which is 4–9 mm. The size of the leaves in the root zone is large, the length and width indicators vary within 5-15x10-25 cm. The shape of the leaves is triangular-reniform, there is a short sharpening at the top, the edge is broadly serrated. The surface of the leaves is bare.

The height of the stems in smooth butterbur reaches 15–60 cm. When fruits are formed, the stems continue to elongate. The surface of the stems is bare and smooth, which gave the species name to the plant. But it happens that in its upper part there is a cobweb pubescence. The stem is covered with scaly leaf plates of ovate-lanceolate shape, reaching a length of 3–8 cm. These leaves cover the stem with their bases. When flowering in smooth butterbur, thick corymbose inflorescences are formed, made up of 7-15 baskets.Such infertile baskets are formed from a series of female flowers at the edges, and male flowers are formed in large numbers in the central part. If the basket is fertile, then the number of male flowers is small - only 1–5 in the central region.

In the photo Fragrant butterbur

Fragrant butterbur (Petasites fragrans)

is named after the aroma that the inflorescences spread during the flowering process, it contains notes of vanilla. The color of the flowers is delicate whitish-pink. The height of the stems reaches 30 cm. The species comes from the territory of the Mediterranean.

In the photo Butterbur white

White butterbur (Petasites albus)

is of European and Caucasian origin; when settling, it prefers the banks of rivers, ponds and streams. The leaf plates reach 0.8 m across. Their edge is solid. It resembles a hybrid species in characteristics, however, the color of the flowering stem is a pure green shade, and the petals in the flowers are whitish-green.

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Video about the cultivation and use of butterbur:

Photos of butterbur:

Butterbur Photos 1 Butterbur Photo 2 Butterbur Photo 3 Butterbur Photo 4 Butterbur Photo 5

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