Tussilago farfara Asteraceae

A native of Europe and Asia, Coltsfoot is a perennial that grows no taller than 30cm. In spring, well bifore there are any leaves, yellow flowers start to appear upon the plant's scaly stems. The delicate, heart-shaped leaves that follow are covered on their underside by a fine, white down.

Parts used

Flowers and leaves

Harvesting takes place between February and May. The flowers are then dried for use in infusions and pharmaceutical preparations.


Because of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids present, Coltsfoot should only be taken in consultation with a medical herbalist, and for no longer than three to four weeks.

Coltsfoot must not be used during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.


Between 6 to 10 per cent of the Coltsfoot flower is made up of mucilage and about 5 to 10 per cent of tannins. Other components include flavonoids, carotenoids, triterpenes, phytosterols and traces of pyrrolizidine alkaloids

Medicinal uses

The tannins have antiseptic properties, while the mucilage helps to boost immunity and has the power to reduce inflammation and loosen phlegm.

Coltsfoot's mix of flavonoids and phytosterols also gives the plant anti-inflammatory properties, while the flavonoids on their own help to reduce muscle spasms. This variety of properties makes Coltsfoot preparations useful in treating asthma, bronchial inflammation, dry coughs, and mouth and throat irritations.

A Coltsfoot ointment or poultice can be highly effective in soothing cuts and skin irritations, killing any bacteria and reducing inflammation.


Coltsfoot is grown from seeds. Plant in moist, neutral or alkaline soil, in a sunny or lightly shaded spot.

Do not use for making home preparations.


A treatment with a base of Coltsfoot should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor or medical herbalist as there is some evidence that the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the plant can make it mildly toxic



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