Suppression

Coltsfoot

Category: Medicines - plant based

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

The correct botanical name of Coltsfoot is Tussilago farfara.  It is a member of the Asteraceae or Compositae family and other names for the plant include Cineraria farfara, Farfara radiata, Tussilago alpestris, and Tussilago umbertina.

Coltsfoot is a hardy perennial which grows wild in Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa, western and northern Asia.  It can be found in hedgebanks, roadsides, wasteland, often as a pioneer, and on dunes and shingle in coastal zones.

It grows to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate. It is in flower from Feb to April, and the seeds ripen from Mar to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees and flies.  The plant is self-fertile.

Coltsfoot is a very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils when grown in full sun. It prefers a moist neutral to alkaline soil and will also succeed in partial shade. Plants are hardy to about -29°c. Coltsfoot is a very tough plant that is more than capable of looking after itself. When well sited, its roots will spread very freely sending up new shoots at some distance from the clump even if growing amongst dense weed competition. This can make it a problem weed in gardens. The rhizomes can lay dormant in the soil for many years, emerging when the soil is disturbed.

Coltsfoot can be eaten, but is more often thought of as a medicine.

Background

Coltsfoot has been used traditionally for lung diseases, from coughs, bronchitis, asthma to more serious lung problems.  As you will see from the observations, however, other uses are starting to emerge as its principal action is anti-bacterial.  Any skin disease that has a bacterial origin appears to be soothed by this plant.

Coltsfoot preserved in oil
 

It should be noted that the plant contains traces of liver-affecting pyrrolizidine alkaloids and is potentially toxic in large doses. These alkaloids have not proved toxic at low dosages in tests and there is no suggestion that this plant should not be used medicinally. Contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation.

The chemical constituents of the various parts of the plant are as follows:

Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases  - Chemicals in: Tussilago farfara L. (Asteraceae) – Coltsfoot

ARABINOSE Flower: DUKE1992A Leaf: DUKE1992A

ARNIDIOL Flower: DUKE1992A

ARSENIC Flower 0.09 ppm; DUKE1992A

CALCIUM Flower 3,670 ppm; DUKE1992A

CHOLINE Flower: DUKE1992A Leaf: DUKE1992A

COPPER Flower 20 ppm; DUKE1992A

CRYPTOXANTHIN Flower: DUKE1992A

FARADIOL Flower: DUKE1992A

GALACTOSE Flower: DUKE1992A Leaf: DUKE1992A

GALLIC-ACID Flower: DUKE1992A

GLUCOSE Flower: DUKE1992A Leaf: DUKE1992A

HYPERIN Flower: DUKE1992A

HYPEROSIDE Flower 2,800 ppm; DUKE1992A

INULIN Flower: DUKE1992A Root: DUKE1992A

IRON Flower 370 ppm; DUKE1992A

LUTEIN Flower: DUKE1992A

LUTEIN-EPOXIDE Flower: DUKE1992A

MAGNESIUM Flower 1,080 ppm; DUKE1992A

MALIC-ACID Flower: DUKE1992A

MANGANESE Flower 25 ppm; DUKE1992A

MUCILAGE Flower 69,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Leaf 82,000 ppm; DUKE1992A

N-HEPTACOSAN Flower: DUKE1992A

POTASSIUM Flower 18,200 ppm; DUKE1992A

RUTIN Flower 3,600 ppm; DUKE1992A

SODIUM Flower 130 ppm; DUKE1992A

STEARIC-ACID Flower: DUKE1992A

TANNIN Flower 6,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Leaf 170,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Rhizome: DUKE1992A

TARAXANTHIN Flower: DUKE1992A

TARTARIC-ACID Flower: DUKE1992A

URONIC-ACID Flower: DUKE1992A Leaf: DUKE1992A

VIOLAXANTHIN Flower: DUKE1992A

XANTHOPHYLL Flower: DUKE1992A

ZINC Flower 25 ppm; DUKE1992A

 

2-O-METHYL-D-XYLOSE Leaf: DUKE1992A

ARNIDENEDIOL Plant: DUKE1992A

BETA-AMYRIN Leaf: DUKE1992A

CALENDOL Leaf: DUKE1992A

FRUCTOSE Leaf: DUKE1992A

INULIN Root: DUKE1992A

ISOQUERCETIN Plant: DUKE1992A

L-FUCOSE Leaf: DUKE1992A

LAURIC-ACID Leaf: DUKE1992A

MUCILAGE Leaf 82,000 ppm; DUKE1992A

MYRISTIC-ACID Leaf: DUKE1992A

PALMITIC-ACID Leaf: DUKE1992A

PARAFFIN Root: DUKE1992A

QUERCETIN Leaf: DUKE1992A

RHAMNOSE Leaf: DUKE1992A

SENKIRKINE Plant 75 ppm; DUKE1992A

SITOSTEROL Leaf: DUKE1992A

STIGMASTEROL Leaf: DUKE1992A

TANNIN Leaf 170,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Rhizome: DUKE1992A

TARAXASTEROL Leaf: DUKE1992A

TUSSILAGINE Plant 75 ppm; DUKE1992A

 

ppm = parts per million
tr = trace

Method

   

The flower buds and young flowers can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a pleasant aniseed flavour and add a distinctive aromatic flavour to salads. The young leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked.  They can be used in salads, added to soups, or cooked as a vegetable. The leaves have a bitter taste unless they are washed after being boiled.

From the website Edible wild food
Coltsfoot flowers can be eaten. They can be tossed into salads to add a wonderful aromatic flavour; or fill a jar with the flowers and add honey to make a remedy to help calm a cough or to sweeten a bitter herbal tea. Dried flowers can be dried and chopped up so that they can be added to pancakes, fritters, etc. Young leaves can be added to soups or strews and small quantities of fresh young leaves can be used in salads.

An aromatic tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves and flowers. It has a liquorice-like flavour. The commonly held belief thta the dried and burnt leaves have been used as a salt substitute is apparently incorrect and attributed to the wrong plant. The slender rootstock has been candied in sugar syrup.

Farmhouse fare - recipes from country housewives collected by Farmer's Weekly    COLTSFOOT WINE
to each gallon of water allow:
2 quarts coltsfoot flowers
3 llbs sugar
1/2 lb raisins
1 lemon
1 orange
a little yeast  spread on toast
Put the flowers raisins and rind of the lemon and orange into a tub,  Put the sugar and water into a saucepan with the lemon and orange juice  and bring to the boil, while boiling pour over the flowers and stir well.  Cover and leave until lukewarm.  Add the yeast.  Leave to ferment for 4 days.  Strain into a demi-john.  When fermentation has ceased bottle, cork and leave for 6 months.  This is very good for coughs and colds.

Related observations