Latin name: Farfarae folia, flores3
Usable parts: Leaves and flowers3
Harvest period: The flowers from March to June, and the leaves before August.
Constituents: Mucilage, bitter substances, tannins, phytosterols, essential oils, glycoside, inulin, silicic acid, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, sulphur, vitamin C, pyrrolidine alkaloids.3
Action: Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-constipation, expectorant, emollient, cough-relieving3
Application: Its high mucilage content makes coltsfoot an excellent cough expectorant that forms a layer of mucilage over inflamed areas. It is used, among other things, to treat spasmodic coughs and bronchitis. However, a homegrown variety should be used for this since its pyrrolizidine alkaloids make the wild plant mildly toxic.
Coltsfoot leaves of the cultivated variety are also used as a tobacco surrogate.
Risk of misidentification: The flowers are very similar to the Taraxacum officinale dandelion. Its leaves resemble those of the Petasites hybridus butterbur and Adenostyles Alpine asters.
Tips for Domestic Cultivation
Coltsfoot is very easy to grow. Thriving in soils rich in lime, loam, and clay, it can either be planted in seed form, or transplanted using a section of the root. After winter, its resilience enables it to recover and regrow on its own.
Home Use / Recipe Idea
Fill a screw-top glass jar halfway with fresh flowers and add 40% proof alcohol. Close and leave to infuse for between one to one-and-half moon cycles (about six weeks). The tincture obtained as a result is an effective expectorant. To consume, dissolve eight to ten drops of the tincture into a little water, or drizzle onto a sugar cube.3
3 “Die Kräuter in meinem Garten” by Siegrid Hirsch & Felix Grünberger; 22nd Edition; Freya Verlag Gmbh