Winter Heliotrope Challenge

Winter heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) is a plant native to North Africa and the Mediterranean regions. Brought to Ireland by gardeners in the 19th Century, it spreads rapidly underground, and grows quickly, blocking out light from native plants and dominating the area. We only have male plants of winter heliotrope in Ireland. This means it never creates seeds, and all the plants that you see around the country are clones, and have been spread from a broken-off piece of the original plant. It favours spread along disturbed areas such as roadsides and bank sides.

Spike of white to lilac flowers, smelling strongly of almonds or vanilla. Photo: Zoe Devlin
Spike of white to lilac flowers, smelling strongly of almonds or vanilla. Photo: Zoe Devlin

Heart shaped leaves 20-50cm wide. Photo: Zoe Devlin

Often seen growing in abundance alone river and roadsides. Photo: Eithne Davis
Often seen growing in abundance along river and roadsides. Photo: Eithne Davis

We suspect that this invasive plant is seriously under-reported in Ireland. By entering our competition, you can help us to map the extent of winter heliotrope in Ireland. All entrants will be in with a chance to win fabulous prizes such as National Biodiversity Data Centre publications including a pack of 6 wildlife identification swatch guides, an Atlas of Mammals of Ireland (limited edition) and, an Identification guide to Ireland’s grasses. Additional prize just added: A gift subscription for the Irish Seed Savers Association (worth €60) for an individual. This entitles the person to 5 packets of seeds free, discounts on apple trees and workshops, and free access to visit the Irish Seed Savers Association’s 20 acre heritage seed gardens and orchards in Scariff, Co. Clare.

How to enter the competition

  • Look-out for Winter heliotrope between December 8th 2017 and January 31st, 2018.
  • Submit your sightings of Winter heliotrope via the Biodiversity Data Capture app or the invasive online recording form: http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives
  • Be sure to submit a good clear photograph of the plant with your sighting details.
  • If using the phone app be sure the ‘location’ setting is turned on your camera phone.
  • Remember the Challenge starts December 8th and finishes January 31st so all sightings must be submitted between that time frame to be valid for entry into the competition.

Winners will be announced in early February.

Keep track of the Winter Heliotrope Challenge on Twitter and Facebook:

https://twitter.com/InvasiveAliens

https://www.facebook.com/Invasive-Aliens-1732898050300680/?fref=ts

The Winter Heliotrope Challenge is a collaboration between the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the EPA RESEARCH project Prevention, Control and Eradication of Invasive Alien Species.

 

Record Locations

Records by County