Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

1 April

To start the second month – finally, we have a flower! Coltsfoot appear rapidly as the snows melt and bring a bit of sunshine to the world. Yet another of the myriad Asteracea species and, of course, one that is not native to North America but was brought here long ago by settlers – probably for its suppsed medicinal uses. Not that anyone in their right minds should dose themselves with it as it contains some seriously nasty alkaloids, including carcinogens amongst their contributions to the human race.

Usually found in small colonies of plants. The flowers, which somewhat resemble dandelions, bear scale-leaves on the long stems in early spring. The leaves of coltsfoot only appear after the flowers have set seed, withered and died in the early summer and apparenbtly resemble colt’s feet – hence the common name. The flower heads are of yellow florets with an outer row of bracts