June 28, 2017

On the Hoof

Tussilago farfara - Coltsfoot | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Early settlers are often to blame for the introduction of species to the New World, and such is the case for Tussilago farfara, a European native that is now found far and wide in North America, including Maine. Records indicate its presence in the U.S. in 1840. Commonly known as coltsfoot, this member of the aster family strongly resembles dandelions in flower form but is demonstrably different. Coltsfoot gets its name from its hoof-shaped leaves, which emerge after the flowers have bloomed, unlike dandelions with their rosette of leaves from which springs the flower stalks. Coltsfoot was used medicinally as a cough remedy, although now it shown to have has had toxic alkaloids identified that can affect the liver. Coltsfoot can be found in moist, open or partly shaded areas of disturbed habitat, with an ability to form large colonies spreading by rhizome and seed.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.