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Yellow Coltsfoot
Tussilago farfara

I thought this was a spring ephemeral when I first spotted it blooming in very early Spring, and then learned that the leaves will stick around for most of the summer, so the life-cycle for coltsfoot is too long for it to be considered a true Spring ephemeral. Then I learned it’s a non-native and considered invasive in places. Doh!

This is another plant for which I fell in love with the name, “Coltsfoot”. It turns out the leaves of the plant resemble a colt’s foot. You can see the leaf on the left here, and decide for yourself.

Non-Native: Native to Eurasia—banned in some U.S. States, and considered an invasive species
Family: Aster
Identifiers: Yellow flower that blooms before leaves appear. Similar to a dandelion flower. 

Description: From Wild Adirondacks

The common name refers to the resemblance of the leaf to a colt’s foot. The genus name (Tussilago) comes from the Lain tussis (“a cough”) – a reference to the purported curative powers of Coltsfoot for this ailment. The plant is also known as Son-before-Father; this is a reference to the fact that the flowers appear before the leaves.

This plant is a member of the Aster family. It is not native to the US. It is native to Eurasia, including parts of northern Africa, India, and Nepal. The species was probably introduced to North America by early settlers for its presumed medicinal properties.

The species is becoming an invasive weed in some areas. It is classed as a Class A noxious weed in Alabama and an “A” designated weed in Oregon.  It is prohibited in Massachusetts.  It is considered an invasive species in Connecticut and banned in that state.

All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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