Petasites fragrans | Winter Heliotrope | Plúr na gréine



Conservation status

Not Assessed

Legal status

Native status

Not native

First reported in the wild



Non-native species - Low risk of Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Escape from Confinement

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Ornamental purpose

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


Short hairy herbaceous perennial, up to 30cm, heart shaped leaves 20-50cm wide persisting in winter (Booy et al., 2015). White to lilac flowers, smelling strongly of almonds or vanilla (Booy et al., 2015). May be confused with P. albus (unscented flowers, leaves absent in winter), P. hybridus (native, much larger leaves up to 120cm) and P. japonicus (leaves up to 90cm).

Preferred environment

Adult habitat & habits



Forms dense stands excluding native vegetation (Booy et al., 2015).


Inland unvegetated or sparsely vegetated habitats; Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats; Woodland, forest and other wooded land

Flight period

Life stages


Reproduces vegetatively as only male plants found in Britain and Ireland (Preston et al., 2004).

Life cycle

Food plants

Threats faced

Conservation actions

Nesting biology

Flowers visited

Ex-situ conservation


Vegetative nature

Irish reference specimens


Pathway and vector description

Originally planted for use as ground cover or a winter food plant for bees (Reynolds, 2002). Thought to still be spreading in Britain and Ireland (Preston et al., 2004).

Mechanism of impact


Management approach

Broad environment


Habitat description

Found in hedgerows, roadsides, stream banks, waste ground and edges of woodland (Booy et al., 2015; Reynolds, 2002).

Species group


Native region

Europe, Africa

Similar species


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Widespread & Common. Common along roadsides where it can form dense stands, likely under recorded.

Distribution frequency in Ireland

Native distribution

Native to Italy, Sardinia and North Africa (Preston et al., 2004).

Temporal change

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2020

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

This species is included in our spring flowering plants project. If you see the species please submit your sighting. All information is very valuable.

Full list of species included in the spring flowering plants project:

  1. Bluebell
  2. Common Dog-violet
  3. Cowslip
  4. Early Dog-violet
  5. Early-purple Orchid
  6. Lady’s smock (Cuckooflower)
  7. Lesser Celandine
  8. Lords-and Ladies
  9. Primrose
  10. Toothwort
  11. Wild Garlic
  12. Winter Heliotrope
  13. Wood Anemone
  14. Wood Sorrel
  15. Coltsfoot
  16. Three-cornered Garlic

Further information

This species is included in the spring flowering plants project which is a collaboration between the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the BSBI. It is hoped we can collect valuable data to improve our knowledge of the current distribution of some common plants. All data will be fully validated by both partners before loading to Biodiversity Maps and being made available to the BSBI.



Booy, O., Wade, M. & Roy, H. (2015) A Field Guide to Invasive Plants & Animals in Britain. Bloomsbury.

Preston, C.D., Pearman, D. A. & Dines, T. D. (2002). New atlas of the British and Irish flora. An atlas of the vascular plants of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, Oxford University Press.

Reynolds, S.C.P. (2002) A catalogue of alien plants in Ireland. National Botanic Gardens. Glasnevin, Dublin.

Stace, C. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles 2nd Edition. Cambrige University Press, Cambridge.

Additional comments

Control of Winter helitrope is currently being researched by Eithne Davis under a new  EPA funded project led by CERIS, Institute of Technology, Sligo  that targets the Prevention, Control and Eradication of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on the Island of Ireland.

For winter heliotrope control, they will determine the most effective herbicide/adjuvant combination and time of year for application and produce best practice guidelines for the long-term control. For more information see: