Most of us go to the drugstore for all manner of over the counter remedies, but it wasn’t so long ago, that people turned to plants for their remedies. Even now, some of us know that poppies and foxgloves still provide us with medicines, but others are quite forgotten.
Coltsfoot grows along my road. Its yellow dandelion-like flowers mean spring is here. It often grows along roadsides where the soil has been disturbed. The brilliant flowers are quite a surprise because they bloom so early and are so noticeable.
Unlike the dandelion, coltsfoot has flat blossoms. The large leaves (shaped like a colt’s foot) appear after the blooms, hence its old name of Filius ante patrem which means the son before the father.
Its proper name Tussilago farfara actually means “cures a cough’”, The large leaves are harvested in June and July, then dried. When needed a tea was made and served with honey. It was used not only for alleviating coughs, but also for asthma.
Although I don’t often think of herbs being smoked, coltsfoot leaves are an ingredient in herbal cigarettes.
It can be propagated by root cuttings or seed and because it is such a spreader, it can be used as a groundcover in a sunny location. And be handy for a homemade cough cure.