Coltsfoot or colt’s foot is the most widely used name of the wildflower Tussilago farfara, which has been used medicinally for many hundreds of years to treat coughs, colds and sore throats, hence another of its popular common names, coughwort. Coltsfoot tea is a traditional remedy and is said by many to smell of liquorice. However, coltsfoot has been discovered to contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids and studies have found that these cause liver damage, so always consult a qualified herbalist before consuming it in any form. The shape of the rounded, green leaves has given rise to many of this plant’s other common names – as well as colt’s foot, it is known as horse-hoof, bull’s foot, foal’s wort, and ass’s foot.

In the wild, coltsfoot grows in a wide range of soils, from damp to dry, and thrives on bare or disturbed ground. The bright yellow daisy-like flowers appear early in spring before the leaves and are sometimes mistaken for dandelions, but the scaly crimson stems of coltsfoot clearly distinguish it, as do the large, crinkly, mid to dark green leaves with a silvery reverse that appear as the flowers fade. The flowers open in the day and close up again at night.

A hardy perennial plant, coltsfoot spreads by underground roots. It's hard to get rid of as the plant regrows from even the smallest piece of root left behind in the soil, and the roots are brittle so are hard to remove entirely.

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Tussilago and wildlife

Tussilago is known for attracting bees.

Is known to attract Bees
Is not known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is not known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Tussilago poisonous?

Tussilago can be toxic.

Toxic to:
Is known to attract Cats
Is known to attract Dogs
Is known to attract Horses
Is known to attract People
No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Livestock