Grey Adenostyl

alpendost gray, adenostyles alliaria, alpendost

The grey adenostyl is a perennial plant that occurs in and around the Alps and Pyrenees in the subalpine zone. The leaves are reminiscent of coltsfoot leaves and the flowers of the water-east.

In the Alpine region it was often used like coltsfoot or butterbur, but at that time there was not much difference as long as the leaves looked similar and had about the same effect. The leaves were also used as toilet paper at the roadside.

Plant Description

The grey adenostyl is native to the Alpine region. It grows preferentially between 900 and 2200 metres above sea level in herb-rich mountain forests and high perennial meadows.

The perennial high shrub grows between 30 and 170 centimetres high. The leaves are heart-shaped and can be up to 50 centimetres in diameter. The underside a of the leaves has gray-felted hairs that can be wiped off. The pink to purple flowers appear between July and October. The many tubular individual flowers are united to form cones. The seeds develop from the flowers until late autumn.


Scientific name
Adenostyles alliariae or Adenostyles albifrons.

Plant family

Other names
Eared Alpine East, Gouan Kerner, Grey Alps East, Huatplotschen, Horse-radish, Shitblades.

Plant parts used
Leaf & Root.

Hepatotoxins, Senecionins, Seneciphyllins, Spartioidins.

Harvest period
Spring to early summer.

Side effects
Liver damage, skin irritation.

Pregnancy, lactation, liver diseases.

Medicinal properties

Main use: Cough.

Healing effects

        • Cough suppressant
        • Skin ulcers
        • Chesty cough
        • Smoker’s cough

Application methods

        • Orally
        • Topically

Forms of preparation

Is used in many old recipes of the Alpine region like coltsfoot. It should not be used internally because of its high toxic effect on the liver. Some diseases or poisoning attributed to coltsfoot can be traced back to the Alpine region.


Pour 250 ml of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried leaves and leave to stand for 10 minutes, strain and drink in small sips.


Baths or compresses with the tea or fresh leaves are supposed to help against skin diseases.


Crushed roots or leaves are used as fumigants against respiratory diseases.


The remedy is produced by some healers themselves, but the area of application is unfortunately not yet known.

Remember that because of the liver-damaging ingredients, one should refrain from the internal use of all grey adenostyl species.

Cultivation tips

At times the plant is available at a reasonable price in the wild. The grey adenostyl likes nutrient-rich and moist soils. The location should be semi-shady. At altitudes below 1000 m the grey adenostyl often does not grow satisfactorily.

Collection tips

Harvest fresh leaves, crush larger ones before drying. Dry the leaves thoroughly in an airy place in the shade.


« Back to Glossary Index