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Look-Alikes. Coltsfoot or Dandelion?

Look-Alikes, Medicinal, Tincture

This blog is not about dandelions, but a Look-Alike.   We were out on a hike in Schenely Park in Pittsburgh yesterday and some of the kids on the hike saw these flowers and thought they were dandelions.   I looked and saw  some beautiful Coltsfoot in bloom!

Coltsfoot, picture by Kristie Lindblom

Coltsfoot, picture by Kristie Lindblom

Though the flowers are similar - yellow sun-like blossom - you’ll notice the leaves on coltsfoot are very different: coltsfoot has heart-shaped leaves as opposed to dandelion’s long, thin very toothed leaves.

dandelion flowers, picture by David Sokulski

dandelion flowers, picture by David Sokulski

There are some prominent differences in the flower as well, but if you just saw Coltsfoot flowering by itself, it might be a common mistake to make.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is useful in and of itself: more as an herb than a wild edible. The herb is a decongestant which resolves phelgm and relieves coughing, wheezing, bronchitis and asthma. The entire above-ground portion of the herb: flowers, leaves, stalk, are either dried and steeped as tea or made into a tincture by steeping in alcohol.

In Chinese medicine Coltsfoot flower is known as kuan dong hua and is used to stop cough (the dried flowers are made into a tea, often combined with other herbs.)

If you do see Coltsfoot around, though, now is the time to harvest it! Harvest the complete above-ground portion and set on non-metallic screens to dry, or hang upside-down in bunches. Or, chop the herb, fill a jar, and cover with 80 or 100 proof vodka. Steep for 6 weeks, then filter out the plant matter, saving the liquid: this is your tincture.

Coltsfoot is a mild herb with minimal toxicity, so the standard adult dose of the tincture is 2 - 4 ml/day, or about 50 drops. Children’s doses would be smaller.

Happy harvesting, and please let us know what you find and do!
~ Melissa

  • herbsensational

    just collecting some dandelion root (Pu Gong Ying) .very good stuff =]

  • Peaceoutreach Ca

    I found in another site in using colts foot it is best to boil it for making sirup  from it then to  us it in other ways.  HOW IT WORKS IN THE BODYThe flavonoids have an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effect which eases spasm in the lungs during asthma and bronchitis attacks, allowing easier breathing. The polysaccharides are anti-inflammatory, which helps to calm irritated lung tissue. They also act as an expectorant for excess phlegm and mucous. Together these constituents work to improve the immune system and promote a healthy respiratory system. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids are thought to be harmful to the liver, but to a large extent are destroyed when prepared as a decoction. it is always best to be extra careful.

  • L. Steele

    I just found this. I tried the infusion method and it helps my minor asthma. It saves me taking hits off the inhaler. It really works

  • That's great!
    ~ Melissa

  • DentalPlans

    OKay, I see the difference. I learned about about another remedy to add to my herb collections.

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