C is for Coltsfoot is also known as coughwort and has long been used medicinally. It was used as a cure for coughs and lung complaints as long ago as ancient Greece when Pline and Dioscorides recommended this herb. Coltsfoot is a native of Europe; the image of a coltfoot leaf on a door in France indicated that the resident was a druggist.
The dandelion-like flowers appear in the very early spring. The large leaves appear when the flowers fade and can be gathered in June and July and dried. A decoction can be made by steeping one ounce of dried leaves in 1 quart of water that is then boiled down to 1 pint. It was often sweetened a bit with honey, which also has some medicinal effect. The leaves can also be made into a medicinal cigarete and smoked. The active agent in coltsfoot is muscilage.
Here at the End of the Road, coltsfoot grows along the roadside, often blooming during Mud Season. A coule of years ago I moved a couple of plants up to the backside of my new in-process Rose Bank. That may have been a mistake. It is a great spreader. It likes the sun, but doesn’t seem to have any other requirements. In England it is considered a weed. My roadside is quite damp, at least in early spring, but the Rose Bank is quite dry. It spreads by runners and can be used as a groundcover.
I wrote more about coltsfoot here.
I could have written C is for Compost, but surely most gardeners know about compost piles. I have also had some adventures with vermicompost – worm farming and wrote about that here. To see what else begins with C click here.