Scientific name: Tussilago Farfara
Colt's foot is a perennial small herb of the Order Compositae, and is known in Britain, Asia, Europe, North Africa, South America, and the US and Canada.
The name comes from the shape of the leaves, resemling the hoof print of a colt, ass, bull, or similarly hoofed animal. The plant has myriad names, (listed later), many of which stem from the characteristic hoof print shape of the leaves.
The plant does well in damp heavy soils. It possesses an underground branched stem, sending up shoots in the spring (March and April) of about 6" height, topped by a bright yellow head of flowers, the male occupying the central position and surrounded by much more numerous females. The flowers are followed by the fruit which possess a soft snow white woolly pappus. The leaves are broadly cordate with either an angular or lobed outline, with the underside bearing a dense white felt. The plant propagates by both rhizomes and through seeding.
The leaves and flowers are harvested for use either fresh or dried. The young leaves can be eaten, either raw in salads or cooked as a pot herb, and have a licorice-like flavor.
Colt's foot has been used for treatment of respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, asthma, cough, and inflammation of the mouth and pharynx. Proper use is cautioned as the plant has both hepatoxic and carcinogenic compounds.
Other names for Colt's foot are as follows:
- Horse hoof
- Ass's foot
- Foal's wort
- Bull's foot
The plant is very common and can be used for ground cover. It often is found on roadsides and waste areas, and is considered a nuisance species. Control is relatively simple with either chemical eradication or management by closely mowing.