As Treewright mentioned in his comment, Coltsfoot or Cough Wort (Tussilago farfaraTussilago meaning cough) is now flowering. The plant is quite unique as the flower appears before the leaves giving it another name of “son before the father”.

Coltsfoot has been traditionally used in the treatment of coughs and chest complaints and is used in some herbal cough mixtures that I have used. The leaves were also dried, shredded and then smoked to relieve cough symptoms. The high levels of Zinc found in this plant help to boost the immune system.

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, but taste rather bitter. Certain alkaloids found in this plant can have a toxic effect on the liver, so it is probably best avoided.

The leaf can be seen in this picture, but grows much larger as the season progresses and can be 8 – 10 inches in diameter.

European Coltsfoot should NOT be confused with American Coltsfoot which is a member of the Petasites family, a relative of our Butterbur (Petasites hybridus).

The leaves of this plant can be dried and burnt, then the resulting ash residue used as a salt substitute for stews. I have used Coltsfoot leaves in the same way and it does work.

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