Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), a member of the Asteraceae family, is native to Europe and Asia. It is presumed to have been introduced to the United States by settlers for medicinal purposes. Today, coltsfoot has spread into the northern and middle Atlantic, Midwest, and northern Pacific areas of the United States. It is currently listed as a noxious or invasive weed in several states in the United States.
The leaves and flowering stems of coltsfoot have a long history of medicinal use as an expectorant (to release mucus) and cough suppressant, hence the name tussilago, which translates to cough suppressant. Coltsfoot has been used to treat other respiratory conditions, including asthma, emphysema, and smoker's cough. Coltsfoot has also been used as an astringent, as a demulcent (to soothe mucous membranes), and as a poultice for eczema, skin ulcers, insect bites, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
The flowers and young leaves are edible and may be consumed either raw or cooked. The rootstock has been used to make a sweet syrup.
Ass's foot, Asteraceae (family), bull's foot, butterbur, colt's foot, cough plant, coughwort, farfara, foal's foot, foalswort, horse foot, horse-hoof, kuandong hua, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, tussilago, Tussilagofarfara, winter heliotrope.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.