COLTSFOOT (Tussilago farfara)

This common perennial is a plant of bare or thinly-vegetated ground. The yellow daisy-like flowers appear before the leaves, from February onwards. They grow singly on stems covered with purplish scales, and do not open fully. As the seeds develop they form a hairy cluster, rather like the “clocks” of the dandelion. The large leaves are roughly heart-shaped and are finely toothed. The name coltsfoot arises from their hoof-like shape.

Coltsfoot in the verge of the Weston Road

The generic name Tussilago comes from the Latin word for ‘cough’; the leaves were used to make cough medicine. They have also been the basis of a substitute for tobacco, and in some areas coltsfoot is still known as baccy plant. Other local names include son-before-father (that is, flowers before leaves) and corruptions of Tussilago – Tushlucky, Tushies, Dishylaggie.

Reference: Flora Britannica (R.Mabey)

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Text by George Metcalfe. Photos by Colin Wootton.