Coltsfoot - Tussilago farfara


Tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot can help attenuate cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, and laryngitis. Its smoke is inhaled by the people who experience chronic cough with phlegm.

  • Plant Family: Asteraceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Folefoot, Bull’s Hoof, Foalswort, Horsehoof
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Flowers & Leaves
  • Side Effects: Avoid if pregnant.
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About Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot is cheered as the spring’s first gold due to its highly vibrant and cheerful yellow flowers. It resides in the daisy family Asteraceae and the appearance of its remarkable blooms reminds us of dandelions.

This herbaceous perennial can show a typical height (characteristic of to its family) that ranges from 4 to 12 inches. The shape of coltsfoot leaves has given birth to numerous names, by which it is hailed- folefoot, bull’s hoof, foalswort, horsehoof, and ungula caballina. Coltsfoot is the first to bloom among its other family members and allows its angular-shaped leaves to thrive un-paralyzed with subsequent blooming process.

Coltsfoot is employed medicinally, in cooking, and for making wines. Topically, it is used to soothe the irritation of the skin. Internally, coltsfoot can help attenuate cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, and laryngitis. Its smoke is inhaled by the people who experience chronic cough with phlegm. It reduces the volume of phlegm which ultimately results in decreased shortness of breath and improved quality of life.

However, with benefits come side effects hand in hand. A case was reported in Germany regarding the miscarriage due to the consumption of coltsfoot preparation. Since then, coltsfoot is prohibited by pregnant women as it can induce abortion.


Coltsfoot can be started via seeds and roots. Coltsfoot renders two options for the time of its plantation .i.e. between September till the end of November and from March till late April. It can be planted indoors, outdoors, and in water.

The seeds or roots are buried few centimeters apart in sandy, loamy, or heavy soil. From acidic to alkaline, it thrives in all sorts of pH ranges and can even do well in very alkaline soil too. Coltsfoot requires moisture to grow so the soil must be kept moist. It is preferred to grow coltsfoot in the semi-shade region for better growth.

The seeds of coltsfoot begin to germinate within two days if it is provided with favorable conditions. The lifecycle of coltsfoot is a bit idiosyncratic as the leaves emerge after the flowering phase.

The hermaphrodite flowers of coltsfoot undergo either self-pollination or cross-pollination. The coltsfoot flowers are cheered among hoverflies, flies, bees, beetles, and ants. They all lend a big helping hand for the pollination. The flowers produce seeds that are dispersed via wind and water.

The withering of flowers is closely followed by the emergence of leaves in late spring or summer. The rhizomes of the plant develop into the leaves which continue to grow. In the meantime, the underground rhizomes store food and nutrients which aid in the perpetuation of the cycle of coltsfoot that paves the path for the emergence of new flowers again in the spring.


Coltsfoot flowers and stems are harvested in spring as the plant is blooming. However, the leaves are harvested upon their emergence which usually occurs in either late spring or summer.

The leaves, stems, and flowers are zealously harvested with sharp gardening shears.

Coltsfoot leaves are preferred to be dried in air or dehydrator because the sun or harsh heat of the oven can interfere with its chemical constituents. They are dried until they produce a sound of crackle upon being crumpled.

The crushed or crumpled aerial parts of coltsfoot are then stored in an airtight container to keep their essence alive.


The medicinal preparations of coltsfoot are being employed fervently to achieve a plethora of pharmacological support.

  • Tincture - Infused fresh or dried coltsfoot leaves or flowers  in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Fresh or dried leaves are steeped in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes to yield a steaming cup of coltsfoot tea.
  • Decoction - 1 ounce of dried coltsfoot leaves are decocted with 1 quart of water until the volume reduces by half to yield coltsfoot decoction.
  • Salve - Coltsfoot leaves or flowers infused oil is merged with beeswax and rosemary essential oil to formulate a salve.
  • Syrup - A handful of dried coltsfoot leaves is paired with honey and water and rolled to boil. The liquid is strained after good 30 minutes of simmering to form the syrup.
  • Infused oil - Coltsfoot flowers and leaves are infused with olive oil in a crockpot for 6 to 8 hours or it can be left on a windowsill for 2 to 3 weeks to form coltsfoot infused oil.