Transformational Gardening

Disclaimer: Foraging can be fun, rewarding and provide health benefits. As a novice forager, I will be sharing my foraging experiences. However, in order to be safe, always consult with local foraging experts and guidebooks before beginning foraging. Children should learn to forage safely by being guided by experienced adults. Never ingest anything unless you are certain of the identification and safety of the plant. Some plant species are inedible and some are poisonous.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): Images

Date Location Notes Images
April 11, 2011 Southeastern, New Hampshire My first encounter with Coltsfoot! I was surprised to see a flower blooming just a few days after the snow melted.The Coltsfoot flowerheads and buds can be eaten raw in salads. The flower stems can be eaten raw or cooked. Young leaves can be eaten raw, but remove white hairs prior to consumption to avoid irritation. When the leaves get older, they can be eaten by boiling them in one or more changes of water. Apparently, the ashes of Coltsfoot leaves can be used as a salt substitute.

All parts of the plant can be used to make a medicinal tea by infusion. However, the leaves are the safest because they contain only trace levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can be hard on the liver. The tea treats asthma, cough, soothes mucous membranes (mucilagenous) and is an expectorant. Use by making a strong infusion or by drying and smoking the leaves.

Coltsfoot is a 3 to 18 inch tall, rhizomous plant. It flowers in early Spring (April to May) - one of the first flowers seen. The yellow flower is 1 inch wide and made up of numerous thin ray flowers surrounding disk/tubular flowers. The flowers bloom first and then the leaves grow out of the stem. The 2 to 8 inch long leaves are basal, broad and heart-shaped (very large notch), has teeth that look like black-tipped spines (irregularly spaced), is shallowly lobed, palmately veined and densely gray-wooly on the underside. The leaves get more rubbery as they age. The two outermost main veins are not completely surrounded by green tissue. The flower stem is scaly. Grows in damp soil of streamsides, waste places, roadsides (paved or gravel roads).
Date Location Notes Images
April 22, 2011 Southeastern, New Hampshire Harvested some Coltsfoot tops to make an infused tea for my lungs.
Date Location Notes Images
April 6, 2012 Southeastern, New Hampshire
Date Location Notes Images
April 30, 2012 Southeastern, New Hampshire Drying some leaves for smoking. See last picture.
Date Location Notes Images
May 2, 2012 Southeastern, New Hampshire I rolled dried and crushed Coltsfoot leaves in a organic hemp rolling paper. As you can see, I have absolutely no skill in rolling cigarettes. But I was excited that this was my first herbal cigarette! Coltsfoot is very healthy for the lung when taken in moderation as a tea or by smoking.

I didn't notice much except that smoke usually makes me cough and this did not make me cough at all.