Coltsfoot ( Tussilago farfara )

The coltsfoot ( Tussilago farfara ) is the only species of the genus Tussilago from the sunflower family ( Asteraceae). He is among the first spring flowers, its flowers appear before the development of true leaves. He was in Germany the medicinal plant of the year 1994.


The coltsfoot grows as a perennial ( perennial ) herbaceous plant and reaches stature heights of 10 to 30 centimeters. The long-stalked and undergraduate leaves reach about 10 to 20 centimeters in width. They are perforated and cardiac or hufförmig. By weißfilzige lower leaf surface, the strong - annoying core network is not clearly visible.

Early in the spring at first appear only the basket-shaped inflorescences, which contain about 300 female, yellow ray florets and 30 to 40 male, yellow tubular flowers. Only after their withering the leaves follow. In its heyday, the stems are only occupied with brown or reddish, scaly leaves hairy. Withered stems are clearly nodding.

The leaves, the slightly bitter taste has an astringent effect, have a faint odor. The flowers smell like honey and taste slightly similar to the leaves, but slightly sweeter.

The coltsfoot drives from a rhizome with creeping, up to two meters long underground root foothills.

The flowering period extends from February to April. The Coltsfoot is thus one of the first spring flowers and is pollinated by bees, beetles and hoverflies. Even self-pollination occurs. The seed dispersal takes place (as in the ordinary dandelion) by screen flyer on the wind. Also on Velcro propagation and ants, the seeds are carried on.

Possible confusion

The leaves of coltsfoot are easy with the very similar leaves the White Butterbur to be confused ( Petasites albus). However, the coltsfoot leaves are generally smaller than those of the White Butterbur and have numerous green leaf margin teeth. In butterbur the vascular bundles in the cross section of the petiole are arranged irregularly rather than U-shaped, as in coltsfoot.


The center of the inflorescence

Fruit stand

Group of flowering plants

Coltsfoot is often found on roadsides


The inflorescences of the coltsfoot are among the first flowers of early spring and provide insect food. Therefore, it is not advisable to harvest the entire inventory in one place.

The coltsfoot serves several endangered in their existence butterfly species as fodder plants, including the caterpillars of the Alps Dice Dick head moth ( Pyrgus cacaliae ), the Great Bodeneule ( Rhyacia lucipeta ) and the yellow lichen Alpine Erdeule ( Xestia ochreago ).

Larvae of acidia cognata nate in the leaves of coltsfoot and Pestwurzen.

The Coltsfoot is var.poarum of the rust fungus Puccinia poarum ( with spermogonia and Aecien ) and Coleosporium tussilaginis infested ( with uredia and Telien ). He is also a host plant of the butterbur summer Wurzes.

Distribution and location

The Coltsfoot is native to Europe, Africa and in South and East Asia. In North America it is considered naturalized ( invasive plant ).

The Huflattichflur

Under certain conditions, the coltsfoot for all dominant characteristic species of a particular plant community can be, the Huflattichflur ( Poo- Tussilaginetum Tx. 1931). This is subordinated to the Association of halbruderalen semi-dry grasslands ( Convolvulo - Agropyrion ). By nature, a pioneer plant on at least periodically wet, loamy or clayey raw soils, the coltsfoot place through human intervention, for example in road embankments, sand pits, construction sites, quarries and Erdablagerungen sometimes conditions that lead to mass populations. In the summer here mainly grow bluegrasses ( Poa ). Since the Huflattichflur usually arises as a consequence of human activity, they will soon usually displaced from other plant communities. Only in natural habitats such as stream and river banks, it remains stable for longer.


The new genus name tussilago is the first time in the Naturalis historia (26, 30) Pliny occupied and a derivation from the Latin tussis, cough ' with a chemical also found in other plants name suffix - ( il ) AGO. The Style epithet coltsfoot is also borrowed from the Latin, the other origin is unclear ( Plautus frg inc 50 farfari, Poenulus 478 farferi, Plin Nat Hist 24, 135 farfarum, coltsfoot '. .. ); probably reshuffled it is Farfugium ( Pliny Nat. hist 1, 24, 85 farfugio ), as the composition from far, grain, flour and fugio, flee 'or fugo, put to flight ' and therefore appears as, grain Scarecrow ' is interpreted. The German name refers to the shape of the horseshoe-shaped leaves.

The coltsfoot does not belong to the genre of real lettuces (Lactuca ), whose name comes from the high content of these plants to milk juice (Latin lac " milk "). The name - cos goes back to the Latin lapaticum with which you originally referred to several large-leaved plants and transformed into lettuce on laptica and lattica.

Ingredients and use

Ingredients include polysaccharides, mucilages, sterols, tannins and bitter substances.

The Coltsfoot is considered important medicinal plant in coughing and is an expectorant. As medicinally the most effective part of the leaves are used ( drug: Farfarae folium ). The Coltsfoot is one of the oldest tussive. Already Dioscorides, Pliny and Galen recommend the smoke of lit leaves against cough. Hildegard von Bingen refers to the healing power of coltsfoot for diseases of the respiratory system. However, recent research indicates undesirable side effects (cancer risk) by pyrrolizidine alkaloids contained. The two most important representatives are Senkirkin and senecionine. Therefore, coltsfoot should be taken for more than four to six weeks a year.

The large leaves of coltsfoot are hand soft-hairy and are therefore referred to by naturalists as Wanderers toilet paper.