Herb: Butterwort

Latin name: Pinguicula vulgaris

Family: Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort Family)

Medicinal use of Butterwort:

Butterwort is little used in contemporary herbal medicine, though it was commonly used in the past as a purgative in Wales. Its main application is as a cough remedy. The leaves are antispasmodic and antitussive. The plant is an effective treatment for whooping cough. Used externally as a poultice, it has a healing effect on the skin. The leaves are harvested in early summer as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of whooping cough and nervous throat irritations.

Description of the plant:


8 cm
(3 1/4 inch)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Boggy soils on wet rocks and damp places, avoiding shady places.

Edible parts of Butterwort:

The plant can be used to curdle plant milks. The milk is poured over a strainer on which fresh leaves of butterwort have been laid. The milk is then left for a day or two until it sours when it becomes solid like yoghurt and is considered to be most delicious. A small quantity of the milk can be kept to inoculate further batches. Another report says that the leaves are infused in the milk for some time.

Other uses of the herb:

A colouring substance is obtained from the leaves.

Propagation of Butterwort:

Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the summer if this is possible otherwise in early spring. Place the pots in shallow water to keep them moist. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two growing seasons. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of the resting buds in the winter. Leaf cuttings.

Cultivation of the herb:

Boggy soils on wet rocks and damp places, avoiding shady places.

Known hazards of Pinguicula vulgaris:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.