The palish plant in question is Petasites japonicus, or rather its inflorescences. I usually ask if the enquirer knows the British native Butterbur Petasites hybridus (most don't), as it makes it easier to explain that this is a Japanese Butterbur, whose inflorescences appear now, to be followed by large 'rhubarb-like' leaves. There's no doubt that it has a very strange appearance, with the inflorescence appearing close to the ground as a cluster of flower-heads surrounded by broad pale green bracts: at this stage it looks rather like a miniature cauliflower, or perhaps, at a distance, a tuft of some odd primrose. Most years they get frosted at this stage, develop a manky black centre and do not develop much further, but this season they have escaped frost and have developed to their full stature, elongated on stems to 20-30 cm, and have thus become even more conspicuous than usual.
|A slightly more developed
|Petasites japonicus en masse, Colesbourne Park,