What do you think of it so far?

Load of rubbish!

FizzIt has not been very nice out today so I am going to do a flower instead.

This is going to be one of our early bloomers but I am not sure how early. I only discovered it on March 9th but by then it was in full flower.

We went searching for winter signs of it today but our eyes weren’t big enough.

Fizz

Tussilago farfara, The Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)A member of the Daisy family, Coltsfoot is a composite flower head made up of central disc florets (male) and thin, radial, ray florets (female).

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)It is native to the UK, Europe, North Africa and Western and North Asia it is an introduced species in North America.

In many parts of the world it is the first spring flower to appear and in Finland the first Coltsfoot is routinely reported in the media, signalling the end of a long winter and the coming of spring. Something that everybody looks forward to.

Early flowering is achieved because the flower heads form in the previous autumn, lie dormant through the winter and are ready to open at the first sign of spring.

Coltsfoot flower buds (Tussilago farfara)Coltsfoot flowers appear long before the leaves. The leaves only appear after the flowers have gone to seed.

Coltsfoot flower buds (Tussilago farfara)The stem is covered in long scaly bracts.

Coltsfoot stem (Tussilago farfara)The central disc florets are quite large and have five petals and pollen producing anthers. They have no female part and they do not produce a seed.

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)The ray florets are female, they each have a two lobed stigma to collect pollen which leads down to the ovary, where the seed will be produced.

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)Flowers of the Daisy family don’t have sepals. Instead many of them have a small ring of hairs, above the ovary, that will develop into the pappus or parachute that will carry the seed on the wind. Not all of them, neither Daisies nor Sunflowers develop parachutes but Coltsfoot does.

Coltsfoot pappus (Tussilago farfara)Very often the newly formed seed head will carry the remains of the flowers amongst it.

Coltsfoot seed head (Tussilago farfara) Coltsfoot seed head (Tussilago farfara)   Coltsfoot seed head (Tussilago farfara)   Coltsfoot seed head (Tussilago farfara)Coltsfoot seed head (Tussilago farfara)

Coltsfoot seed head (Tussilago farfara)

Coltsfoot pappus (Tussilago farfara)When the flowers have gone then the leaves appear, almost like a second plant and this will be one that does not appear to ever flower.

Coltsfoot leaves (Tussilago farfara)This is the shape that gives the plant the name Coltsfoot.

Coltsfoot leaves (Tussilago farfara) Coltsfoot leaves (Tussilago farfara)   Coltsfoot leaves (Tussilago farfara)   Coltsfoot leaves (Tussilago farfara) The Latin name Tussilago comes from the words Tussil (cough) and ago (act on). It was once believed that smoking the leaves would cure a cough and the plant is occasionally referred to as English Tobacco or various other smoking related names. (It should be remembered that Tobacco itself was once hailed as a remedy for respiratory ailments)

The flowers have also been used in herbal medicine and are still available to buy as ready prepared syrups and so on, however we now know that the plant contains compounds that cause severe liver problems over time and are very dangerous to children. There is a variety developed in Germany called Tussilago farfara ‘Wien’ that has had the dangerous compounds removed, it was developed after several severe cases of liver damage and the death of one child whose mother took Coltsfoot during pregnancy.  It should be taken with caution.

Coltsfoot leaves (Tussilago farfara)Wildlife fare better. There is a cup of nectar at the base of each ray floret and the discs are full of pollen. It is a favourite of Honey bees, one study has reported that 51% of all visits to the flower were by Apis mellifera (European Honey Bee). It flowers in early spring and these early nectar sources are very important to all of our insects.

.Comma Butterfly on ColtsfootAlthough insect pollination and seed production is vital to the plants survival most of the seeds produced will fail. Carried by the wind they must settle somewhere they will have a constantly damp environment. Such seeds allow the plant to colonise new areas but most new plants arise from vegetative reproduction (A new plant growing from the roots of an existing one) which is why you will usually find Coltsfoot flowering in quite dense groups.

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Asterales

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Tussilago

Species: Tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot flower (Tussilago farfara)Wildflowers in winter.

I have not been at my best today, I have got a bug.

BugSo I will leave it to Fizz to say…

FizzHappy New Year Everybody 😀 😀

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50 thoughts on “What do you think of it so far?”

  1. Wow, so there marketing gurus back when Walter Raleigh was still alive! Your post reminds me of the famous Bob Newhart sketch. of course drying out leaves, rolling them up, and putting them to your lips will NEVER catch on.

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    1. Thank you Stephen 🙂 Some time ago, in a different life, I used to collect old books. Just cheap stuff that you can probably still find in antique book stores. I liked the sense of history and the little handwritten inscriptions in those given as gifts. The medical dictionaries were the best 🙂

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  2. We don’t have much Coltsfoot round here – I only know of a couple of large patches of it. It is unmistakable, even from a distance as it is a different shade of yellow from dandelions – more ochre yellow I think.
    My Grandmother suffered from an over-active thyroid and developed a goitre. It was operated on in the 1930’s and the doctor recommended my grandmother start smoking to help in her recovery. She always disliked smoking and eventually gave up in the 1960’s. She lived to be 93 years old.

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    1. Thanks Clare 🙂 I only know of one place locally where I can find Coltsfoot and strangely that is also the only place where I can find the Guelder Rose. I expect that there will be many more places to find in 2015 🙂

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    1. Thank you Becky 🙂 Education would be a lot easier for most of us if there were more pictures and fewer words and all teachers knew the verb “Lookit” as in “Lookit, it’s beautiful,” Happy New Year and a belated Happy Birthday 🙂

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  3. Plenty of hot home-made chicken soup with garlic and fresh ginger for you Colin and you’ll be over it in no time.

    Interesting flower. Reminds me a bit of dandelions with those fluffy seed balls. Hope you have a very Happy New Year and pass on my regards to Fizz.

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  4. Another great profile, Colin. Even though it is not native here, I love coltsfoot for the same reason as the Finns, it is a harbinger of spring. That cheery yellow after a long, snowy winter is so heartening.

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  5. Load of rubbish that you caught a buggish 😦 Fine post in spite of feeling sluggish. Thanks to mellow yellow Coltsfoot and frisky Fizz, the show did go on, as they say in showbiz 😉

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  6. Happy New Year to you and Fizz, and keep those informative posts coming at us. Will have to look out for coltsfoot in Southern Spain. We have our bible on Mediterranean flowers and then I can’t identify one and have to look in the British book. The dear common ones aren’t in the purely Mediterranean one!

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  7. Another very informative and interesting walk with yourself and Fizz. I enjoyed all the information on the flower, and I really liked the bug. Just curious, do bugs like that in any way help out with the propagation of flowers and plants, or can they truly be said to be, “Just passing through”.

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