Definitions

tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot

[kohlts-foot]

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is a plant in the family Asteraceae.

It has been used medicinally as a cough suppressant. The name "tussilago" itself means "cough suppressant." The plant has been used since at least historical times to treat lung ailments such as asthma as well as various coughs by way of smoking. Crushed flowers supposedly cured skin conditions, and the plant has been consumed as a food item.

Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers.

The plant is typically between 10 - 30cm in height.

Coltsfoot is native to several locations in Europe and Asia. It is also a common plant in North America and South America where it has been introduced, most likely by settlers as a medicinal item. The plant is often found in waste and disturbed places and along roadsides and paths. In some areas it is considered an invasive species.

Coltsfoot is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Gothic and Small Angle Shades. The Coltsfoot is also worked by the honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera).

Other common names include Ass's foot, Bull's foot, Butterbur, Coughwort, Farfara, Foal's foot, Foalswort, Horse Foot and Winter heliotrope.

Sometimes it is confused as Western coltsfoot.

Dried coltsfoot is often used as a tobacco alternative, notably in Amsterdam, since the legal status of tobacco was tightened in August 2008.

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