Harbingers of Spring
When winter finally loosens its firm grip, our earliest spring flowers begin to grow. People, overly tired of winter, look forward to the first precious colours of spring flowers. Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is one of our first wildflower blossoms to poke its head out of frozen soil. It is so anticipated, there is often an unofficial contest to see who can find the first blooms. Our Coltsfoot have been in bloom for about 2 weeks now.
Coltsfoot is a yellow, dandelion-like flower that grows on disturbed sites, mainly roadsides, stream banks and waste areas. The flower heads are about 2.5 cm wide and the plant grows 7 to 40 cm tall. The flowers appear before the leaves. The leaves are vaguely heart-shaped and about 7 to 20 cm wide. Coltsfoot can be differentiated from the Common Dandelion by its early blooming date, the scaly stems and the shape of the leaves. In ancient times the leaves of Coltsfoot were used to make a cough syrup. That explains the Latin name, Tussilago, which is derived from the Latin word, tussis, meaning 'cough'.