Winter Heliotrope
Petasites fragrans

Often misidentified as Butterbur (which is much larger and not at all common in Dorset) this is an introduced species that often becomes a nuisance by covering large areas, especially grassy banks.

It is one of the few plants to flower in mid-winter, long before spring-flowering species such as Primrose and Snowdrop.

Its purple flowers produce a sickly sweet fragrance but at this time of year are visited by very few insects and being an exotic species no insects feed on its leaves.

On the Rodwell Trail it is only common in section 4, near Old Castle Road.

Let's hope it stays that way ...