The University Gardens
Historical plants of Bergen

Petasites hybridus (butterbur)

From plague medicine to troublesome weed.

Petasites hybridus
Bjørn Moe, UiB

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The species comes from Central and Southern Europe and Western Asia, and probably came to Norway in the Middle Ages as a remedy for plague, perhaps during the Black Death.

It has also been cultivated as an ornamental plant, and the earliest sources we have from Bergen are well over 150 years old herbarium specimens from Bergenhus Fortress, where it may have belonged to the landscaped garden built by Commander Mansbach around 1830. It has now established populations in several places in the city and can be a troublesome weed that displaces other plants over large areas.

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