Tussilago farfara. N.O. Compositae.
Synonym ► Also recognised as Coughwort and Horsehoof, the name Coltsfoot is from the shape of the leaf, which is supposed to resemble a colt’s foot.
Habitat ► It prefers moist, clayey soil, and is usually found growing near streams and ditches.
Features ► Springing erect from the ground to a height of about eight inches, the stem is entirely covered with small brown scales and a loose cottony down. The angular, long-stalked, toothed leaves are about four inches, green above with long white hairs underneath. Large, daisy type, bright yellow flowers appear, one to each
stalk, from February to April, long before the leaf growth. The taste is mucilaginous and rather astringent, the odour scarcely noticeable.
Part used ► Leaves.
Action ► Expectorant and demulcent.
Coltsfoot leaves are used in a decoction of 1 ounce to 1 1/2 pints of water, simmered down to 1 pint, which is taken in teacupful doses. Its expectorant and demulcent action is of great help in cough remedies when in conjunction with pectorals such as Horehound. The leaves also form a useful constituent of asthma and whooping-cough medicines, and are smoked as a relief against asthma, bronchitis and catarrh.
These same uses were known centuries ago, as witness Culpeper ► “The dry leaves are best for those that have thin rheums, and distillations upon the lungs, causing a cough, for which also the dried leaves taken as tobacco, or the root, is very good.”