|Petasites japonicus |
Butterbur is an English name for petasites hybridus, a herbaceous plant which is found in Europe and parts of North Africa and Asia. Another species, petasites japonicus, is sometimes called japanese butterbur or fuki. The plant grows in damp, marshy areas and along riverbanks with large heart-shaped leaves and is also sometimes called bog rhubarb. It flowers in early spring, the red/pink flowers appearing on tubular stalks before the leaves develop. The name butterbur comes from the reported practice of using the leaves to wrap butter, despite their quite unpleasant smell.
Modern butterbur products use extracts from the plant which have to be processed to remove any toxic and carcinogenic alkaloids. Nevertheless, they are not recommended for young people, those with kidney or liver problems, or pregnant or lactating women.
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