Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Inula britannica
(british yellowhead)



Inula britannica (british yellowhead)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Inula britannica
  • Preferred Common Name
  • british yellowhead
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Inula brittanica can reproduce vegetatively from root sections or rhizomes. It contaminates and competes with nursery stock. As humans move hosta rootstock, I. brittanica rhizomes may hitchhike. In Mic...

  • Principal Source
  • US Federal Noxious Weed List (draft fact sheet 2011)

  • There are no pictures available for this datasheet

    If you can supply pictures for this datasheet please contact:

    CAB International
    OX10 8DE
  • Distribution map More information

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report


Top of page


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Inula britannica L.

Preferred Common Name

  • british yellowhead

Other Scientific Names

  • Inula japonica Thunb.

International Common Names

  • English: British elecampane; meadow fleabane
  • Chinese: ou ya xuan fu hua; xuan fu hua

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

Inula brittanica can reproduce vegetatively from root sections or rhizomes. It contaminates and competes with nursery stock. As humans move hosta rootstock, I. brittanica rhizomes may hitchhike. In Michigan, USA, nurserymen report spread by machinery. The seeds have a long pappus so are assumed to be capable of wind dispersal. This plant is likely spread by water fowl (Blamey & Wilson, 1989), and by man because of its purported medicinal value.

I. britannica was added to the US Federal Noxious Weed List and seed list in 2010.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Inula
  •                                 Species: Inula britannica


Top of page

I. brittanica is an erect herb, growing 15-75 centimeters (6-30 inches) tall. The stems can be covered with dense white hairs. It can be biennial or perennial. The leaves are elliptical to ovate elliptical, 3.8-15 centimeters (1.5-6 inches) (about 5 times the length of the seed) long, with smooth margins. They are sparsely pubescent on the upper surface and densely pubescent on the lower surface. The weed reproduces by seeds, short rhizomes, or by root fragments. A common arrangement is a mother plant surrounded by 6-8 “satellite” plants all connected by common rhizomes. Flowers are yellow, daisy-like, and occur in clusters of one to three. The plant typically flowers from July to August. The plant can reproduce vegetatively from root sections.

Plant Type

Top of page Biennial


Top of page

I. brittanica is native to Europe and temperate Asia. It prefers wet habitats, including river and stream margins, marshes, ditches, and wet woods and grasslands. The roots and rhizomes of I. brittanica intertwine with the root systems of Hosta plants imported into the USA from the Netherlands. This contamination can remain in the Hosta root systems even after washing and shipment. In Canada, I. brittanica was introduced into Ontario around 1928, along the Etobicoke River and into Quebec (in 1979 or before) on Dupas Island in the St. Lawrence River, where it forms a colony in a pasture. A specimen was collected in 1915 close to New York City on Long Island. The species, collected in an area that is now densely populated, likely did not persist. In the early 1990’s, I. brittanica was found growing in a few nurseries in Michigan. Concern was expressed to USDA APHIS and the National Plant Board. Recent survey in the United States in eastern and southern states found 9 states negative for I. brittanica, with populations confirmed only in Michigan.

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ArmeniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
AzerbaijanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HeilongjiangPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-XinjiangPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
IranPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HokkaidoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-HonshuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-KyushuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-ShikokuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
KazakhstanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
Korea, Republic ofPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
KyrgyzstanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
MongoliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
TajikistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
TurkeyPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
TurkmenistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
UzbekistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2011
-QuebecPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2011
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2011
-New YorkPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2011


AlbaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
AustriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
BelarusPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
BelgiumReported present or known to be presentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
BulgariaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
DenmarkPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
EstoniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
FrancePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
GermanyPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
GreecePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
HungaryPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
ItalyPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
LatviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
LithuaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
MoldovaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
NetherlandsPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
NorwayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
PolandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
RomaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-Russian Far EastPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
-Western SiberiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
SpainPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
SwedenPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
SwitzerlandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
UkrainePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2011

Habitat List

Top of page
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat
Riverbanks Principal habitat
Wetlands Principal habitat

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Hitchhiker Yes
Medicinal use Yes

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organisms Yes
Machinery and equipment Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes
Wind Yes

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Roots roots Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye

Impact Summary

Top of page
Crop production Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally

Uses List

Top of page

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Prevention and Control

Top of page

A pest risk assessment finalized by APHIS (Lehtonen and Schall, 2000) ranked I. brittanica medium in consequences of introduction and high in likelihood of introduction, resulting in an overall medium/high risk potential in the U.S. The species was added to the Federal Noxious Weed List and seed list in 2010.


Top of page

Alabama Cooperative Extension System, July 2002. Accessed 15 June 2009.

Blamey, M. and Grey-Wilson, C. 1989. The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe.

Lehtonen , Polly and Schall, Robert A. 2000. Weed Risk Assessment Inula britannica L(British elecampane). Updated November, 2004 and February 2009.

Morton, Cynthia M., Hansen, Curtis J., Karr, Guy. “Inula brittanica L.—An Aggressive Weed Alert.”

Principal Source

Top of page

US Federal Noxious Weed List (draft fact sheet 2011)

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map