Coltsfoot: Where in the World
habitat and range for coltsfoot

Coltsfoot is native to Asia and Europe and later introduced to North and South America.

Coltsfoot: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on coltsfoot

Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Asteraceae family that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically 10–30 cm in height.

common names & nomenclature
Coltsfoot is called bechion, bechichie or bechie, from the Ancient Greek word for "cough". It is also known locally in certain regions as "Donnhove," taken from the word "donn" that means little horse, or donkey.

Also known as:
winter heliotrope, bechion, bechichie, bechie, donnhove, butterbur, tash plant, farfara, foal's foot, foalswort, horse foot, ass's foot, bull's foot, cleats, coughwort

Coltsfoot: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting coltsfoot

Coltsfoot is often found in waste and disturbed places and along roadsides and paths. In some areas it is considered an invasive species. It’s a wayside herb that thrives in poor conditions in shade or sun.

Coltsfoot can grow in many types of soil, such as poor soils or heavy clay, and prefers a moist neutral to alkaline soil.

Seeds germinate easily. The plant does not usually require help with spreading itself around, but if required the seed can be sown in the garden soil in early spring or autumn. Division of the roots is very easy and succeeds at almost any time in the year. The divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent locations in the garden.

The leaves are harvested in June and early July, the flowers are harvested when fully open and the root is harvested in the autumn. All can be dried and used as needed.

Cut the dried leaves into smaller pieces, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Coltsfoot: The Rest of the Story
coltsfoot history, folklore, literature & more

coltsfoot—a tradition of respitory respite
Coltsfoot has been a cough-suppressing mainstay of Asian and European herbal medicine for 2,000 years. In addition to using the herb to treat cough, Chinese physicians have long prescribed it for asthma, colds, flu, bronchial congestion, and even lung cancer.

India's traditional Ayurvedic doctors prescribed powdered coltsfoot in the form of snuff to treat cough, headache, and nasal congestion.

For cough and asthma, the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides and the Romans Pliny and Galen recommended a coltsfoot treatment that today sounds ridiculous—smoking the herb.

Coltsfoot may help treat respiratory problems in several ways. It contains a substance (mucilage) that may soothe the respiratory tract.

A German study using experimental animals showed the herb increases the activity of the microscopic hairs in the breathing tubes that move mucus out of the respiratory tract.

Another experiment shows that the herb suppresses a substance (platelet activating factor) in the body that is involved in triggering asthma attacks.