Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

Also known as Claywort, Coughwort, Butter Bur, Horsehoof. This is an early spring, cool season perennial that is found primarily in the north-eastern United States.

These flowering weeds have a similar appearance to dandelions. Flowers surface early in spring. When blooms begin to die back, weed leaves begin to grow and become fully developed in late June to mid-July.

Leaves are a deep green in color with distinctive purple veins. They are thick and rubbery with rigid scalloped edges. Having a waxy appearance on top, the underside of leaves have white, fuzzy hairs.

Photo: Barbro Rutgersson

The shape of these leaves can appear similar to velvetleaf or cocklebur. The leaves can also resemble the appearance of a horse's hoof. This is where the name Horsehoof came to be.

This weed has no stems - a petiole branch holds flowers. Petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf to stem. Petiole has much of the same internal structure of the stem. The combination of the leaves (which grow 6-8 inches) and the flowers form a canopy that can grow anywhere from 6-18 inches.

This is a competitive weed and will grow even if mixed with other competitive weeds and grasses. Originally from Europe, North Africa and Asia, if efforts are not made to eradicate weed it will eventually take over, even displacing native species. This weed grows in colonies and will survive in bad soils even where a lot of gravel is present, like roadsides.

It spreads by seed and rhizome. For removal dig weed out. Other options include cut back with a hoe or mow over it if present in lawn. Remember these latter methods will require regular management.

Opinions on various non-selective post-emergent herbicides differ as to effectiveness. Glyphosate comes in first as being the most effective.

FYI tidbits about Coltsfoot

    The term coughwort comes from the therapeutic ability that weed has to help coughs, sore throats and bronchial problems. Tussilago stems from the Latin word 'tussis', which translates to cough.

    Although used for medicinal purposes, this weed is noxious and never should be ingested because of toxic compounds. Studies concluded different findings as far as weed being carcinogenic.

    If not a knowledgeable herbalist, it is highly recommended to never experiment at all with this weed. If in your garden - eradicate it.

Related Articles:

Back to Weed Identification

Back from Coltsfoot to home page Easy Butterfly Garden

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Copyright © 2010-2017
Privacy Policy Disclaimer

Printer icon Print

Join Easy Butterfly Garden on Facebook

Recent Articles

  1. Annual Bluegrass

    Jan 14, 17 08:14 PM

    Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is considered a weed in the Poa family, which has a few popular turf grasses. If this gets into your butterfly garden listed are a few ways to eradicate it.

    Read More

  2. Candytuft Flowers

    Sep 25, 16 10:54 PM

    There are the annual, or Iberis, candytuft flowers and also perennials which are called Iberis sempervirens.

    Read More

  3. Keeping Deer Out

    Sep 19, 16 01:10 PM

    Reviewing the types of products available for keeping deer out of our gardens along with building fences. Many of these products help with other garden pests.

    Read More

  4. Butterfly Meadows

    Sep 19, 16 12:52 PM

    Compared to other wildlife gardening, butterfly meadows take time and are not for the faint of heart.

    Read More

  5. Natural Gardening

    Sep 19, 16 12:32 PM

    Natural gardening includes different types of gardens. These garden types create a casual, natural envirionment and help sustain native wildlife which includes butterflies.

    Read More