ALAINN: “BEAUTIFUL, FINE, LOVELY”. (IRISH) OLD IRISH ÁLAIND‎

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Sweet Coltsfoot (Petasites japonicus)

Perennial
Nardosmia japonica.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Sweet Coltsfoot
Petasites japonicus
Compositae

The leaves of the sub-species P. japonicus giganteus are used as umbrellas by Japanese children[187]. The leaf stalks can be used as walking sticks[206].

Plants can be grown as ground cover in damp shady places[206]. They are too invasive for most gardens and should only be used where they have plenty of room[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The plant (though the exact part of the plant used is not specified) is antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, expectorant and poultice[147]. A decoction is used in the treatment of chronic coughing and pulmonary ‘deficiency’, laboured or difficult breathing and asthma, constant sputum formation and pulmonary tuberculosis[147].

  • Edible Use

    Leaf stalks – cooked and used like rhubarb[1, 2, 46, 116]. The stems can be up to 1.2 metres long[104]. They can be boiled and seasoned, pickled and used in winter soups or preserved in miso[183]. They can be boiled, dipped in cold water then peeled and baked – they have a pleasant fragrant taste[206].

    Flower buds cooked or used as a flavouring[1, 22, 46, 61, 105]. A slightly bitter yet agreeable flavour[116, 206], they are much prized in Japan[183]. They can be eaten whilst still green with miso or boiled down in soy sauce[183].

    The young flowering stems can be eaten cooked[206].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in early spring. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the compost to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1], but prefers a deep fertile humus-rich soil that is permanently moist but not stagnant, succeeding in shade, semi-shade or full sun[200]. Requires a moist shady position[187]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. A very invasive plant, too rampant for anything other than the wild garden[187, 200]. Its roots are very difficult to eradicate[200]. The sub-species P. japonicus giganteus has huge leaves up to 1.5 metres across on stems 2 metres tall[187]. It has a poorer flavour than the species type[206]. Sometimes cultivated in E. Asia as a food plant[1, 58]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea. Naturalized in Britain.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.