Colt's-foot Tussilago farfara

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See March, April
Colour Yellow
Habitat Arable, Farmland
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A pretty yellow flower, shaped like a disk, with straight needle-like florets fanning out from the centre.

The leaves, which interestingly appear after the flowers (hence the name Son-before-father), have white felted undersides and are shaped like the hooves of colts - hence the name, and also why it is sometimes called Foal's foot. The stems are upright and have small-scale leaves.

Distribution

Widespread across Britain.

Habitat

It grows in a range of habitats with open or disturbed ground, including arable land, waste land, shingle and scree, even landslips. It grows particularly in waste, rough and cultivated places where there is poor drainage.

Best time to see

The flowers appear in early spring and are at their brightest best in March and April.

Did you know?

Other vernacular names include Disherlagie, Dishylaggie, Tushies and Cleats. The Scottish 'Tushylucky' and its variants are corruptions of the Latin tussilago, related to tussis, a cough.

Historically the plant was been used as a remedy for coughs and colds and Coltsfoot preparations have long been used to soothe sore throats. It is sometimes called Coughwort. The mucilage is most likely responsible for the demulcent effect of the plant. Whilst the great herbalists of antiquity including Dioscorides and Pliny recommended smoking the herb to help the throat. Although this practice probably won't help the throat to heal, smoking coltsfoot is still thought to be a good substitute to tobacco. Hence the common name Baccy plant. Also owing to the fact that the dry felt on the leaves smoulders well, it has been used as tinder.