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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Sweet Coltsfoot - Petasites frigidus
Other Names:  Petasites sagittatus [in part]

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
C-value: 8

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Arctic sweet coltsfoot is a rhizomatous, perennial herb with erect stems that are 1-3 dm high and clothed in alternate, overlapping, brownish parallel-veined bracts that are 25-60 mm long. Leaves arise from the ground separately and later than stems. Blades are up to 2 dm wide and are spade-shaped with lobed margins and long petioles. Leaves are glabrous above but covered with long white hairs beneath. Many stalked flower heads are borne in a small umbrella-shaped inflorescence at the top of the stem. Each head is 5-9 mm high and has a single series of involucral bracts surrounding the white tubular flowers. Some heads have flowers with fertile ovaries and inconspicuous rays but without stamens. Other heads have flowers without rays but with fertile stamens and sterile ovaries. The achenes are topped by numerous unbranched, white bristles, which form a pappus.

We have varieties frigidus and sagittatus (Pursh) Cherniawsky & R.J. Bayer.

Flowering in late May - early June.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
AK to NL south to CA, CO, SD, WI and NY (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 66

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Swamps, fen margins, and riparian seeps within open forest and meadows in the valley and foothill zones.

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus sylvicola (Thorp et al. 1983, Williams et al. 2014).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Sweet Coltsfoot — Petasites frigidus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from