Insectivorous perennial growing to 4 in (10 cm). Has fleshy leaves in a basal rosette and double-lipped, purple-blue flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to northern and western Europe, butterwort grows in moorland and on mountains. The leaves are gathered in midsummer.
Butterwort contains mucilage, tannins, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, and valeric acid. Cinnamic acid has antispasmodic properties.
History & Folklore
Butterwort was much used in Welsh herbal medicine as a purgative. In Norway, the plant has been used to curdle reindeer milk, and medicinally, to treat wounds and ringworm.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Butterwort is little employed in European herbal medicine today. Its main use is as a cough remedy, with properties similar to those of sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), another insect-eating plant. Butterwort may be used to treat chronic and convulsive coughs.
The similar P. grandiflora, native to the Pyrenees, has been used to treat spasmodic coughs.
Take butterwort only under professional supervision.