Tussilago farfara L.
Rank: Significant Threat
Plant Type: Forb/Herb
Flowers grow to a height of 3-12 inches (7.5-30.5 cm).
The cordate (heart-shaped) leaves are slightly toothed, upright and the underside is whitish. They arise directly from the root with no main stem present. Individual leaves are 3-7 inches (7.5-17.5 cm) wide.
The solitary flowers are dandelion-like and bright yellow in color. There are several scaly white flower stalks per plant. Flowers emerge before the leaves in early spring through June.
The brown nutlets are attached to a pappus resembling the seeds of common dandelion.
Photo: Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
More images of Tussilago farfara
Coltsfoot is a perennial herb in the Asteraceae (Aster) family. It is native to Europe and has a long history of being used as an expectorant. The name ‘Tussilago’ comes from the Latin ‘tussis’ which means cough. The name Coltsfoot refers to the horseshoe-shaped leaves.
Coltsfoot is a perennial with a multi-branched rhizome. In the early spring the flower stalks emerge before the leaves. Each stalk bears a solitary flower, which opens only on sunny days. The leaves appear after the flowers have matured; the flowers and leaves are usually not seen at the same time. The flowers and leaves arise directly from the rootstock. Coltsfoot reproduces both vegetatively and sexually. The roots can remain dormant underground for long periods of time. In some cases, coltsfoot has been known to reemerge after soil disturbance, and very small fragments of roots can produce new plants.
Coltsfoot thrives in low-lying mesic areas including stream banks, moist field or pastures, roadsides, and disturbed areas. It can also be found drier sites and in poor soils. It is intolerant of shade and is not commonly found in wooded areas, though it has been documented invading forests following fire.
Origin and Distribution
A native of Europe, this plant was probably brought to this country by early settlers for its medicinal properties. It has spread throughout the northeastern United States from Maine to North Carolina, west to Tennessee and north to Minnesota.
Other states where invasive: NC, NJ, CT, ME. Federal or state listed as noxious, prohibited, invasive or banned: AL, CT, MA, OR.
Sources: Information on this plant page is derived primarily from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Integrated Pest Management Plan.
Initial infestations may be controlled by hand pulling. It is critical that all of the underground portions of the plant are removed. Pulling when the ground is moist may make it easier to remove the entire plant. Residual roots left in the soil may resprout and possibly create several new plants. Hand pull before the plant has set seed to reduce the further spread.
Foliar Spray: This method is effective on large populations or where mechanical control measures are not feasible or are impractical. Apply a 2% solution of glyphosate or triclopyr and water plus a non-ionic surfactant using a tank or backpack sprayer to thoroughly cover all leaves. Do not apply so heavily that herbicide drips off the leaf surface. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide requiring caution not to spray non-target species. Triclopyr is selective for broad leaf plants and is best used in areas where native grasses are present. Treatments should be done in the summer when the leaves of coltsfoot are fully developed. Refer to manufacturer’s label for specific information and restrictions regarding use.