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Tussilago farfara

Tussilago farfara (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Ordo: Asterales
Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Asteroideae
Tribus: Senecioneae
Genus: Tussilago
Species: Tussilago farfara


Tussilago farfara L.


* Species Plantarum 2:865. 1753
* USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]

Vernacular name
Deutsch: Huflattich
English: Coltsfoot
Gàidhlig: Cluas Liath
‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Hestehov
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Hestehov
Русский: Мать-и-мачеха обыкновенная
Suomi: Leskenlehti
Svenska: Hästhov eller Tussilago
Türkçe: Öksürük otu


Tussilago farfara, commonly known as Coltsfoot, is a plant in the family Asteraceae.

It has been used medicinally as a cough suppressant. The name "tussilago" itself means "cough suppressant." The plant has been used historically to treat lung ailments such as asthma as well as various coughs by way of smoking. Crushed flowers supposedly cured skin conditions, and the plant has been consumed as a food product.

The discovery of toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the plant has resulted in liver health concerns.


Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically between 10 - 30 cm in height.


Coltsfoot is native to several locations in Europe and Asia. It is also a common plant in North America and South America where it has been introduced, most likely by settlers as a medicinal item. The plant is often found in waste and disturbed places and along roadsides and paths. In some areas it is considered an invasive species.


Other common names include Tash Plant, Ass's foot, Bull's foot, Butterbur, Coughwort, Farfara, Foal's foot, Foalswort, Horse Foot and Winter heliotrope. Sometimes it is confused with Petasites frigidus, or Western Coltsfoot.


Coltsfoot is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Gothic and Small Angle Shades. The Coltsfoot is also worked by the honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera). Dried coltsfoot is often used as a tobacco alternative, notably in Amsterdam, since the legal status of tobacco was tightened in August 2008.

Coltsfoot has also become a popular confectionery product made by using Coltsfoot essence to create a hardened rock that is used to soothe sore throats and chesty coughs; the recipe has been developed exclusively by Stockley's Sweets of Oswaldtwistle, UK and has become a favourite medicinal sweet around the globe known simply as Coltsfoot rock.


Tussilago farfara contains tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.[1] Senecionine and senkirkine, present in coltsfoot, have the highest mutagenetic activity of any pyrrolozidine alkaloid, tested using Drosophila melanogaster to produce a comparative genotoxicity test.[2][3] There are documented cases of coltsfoot tea causing severe liver problems in an infant, and in another case, an infant developed liver disease and died because the mother drank tea containing coltsfoot during her pregnancy.[4][5] In response the German government banned the sale of coltsfoot. Clonal plants of colstfoot free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids were then developed in Austria and Germany.[6]


1. ^ Fu, P.P., Yang, Y.C., Xia, Q., Chou, M.C., Cui, Y.Y., Lin G., "Pyrrolizidine alkaloids-tumorigenic components in Chinese herbal medicines and dietary supplements", Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, Vol. 10, No. 4, 2002, pp. 198-211[1]
2. ^ Röder, E., "Medicinal plants in Europe containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids", Pharmazie, 1995, pp83-98. Reprinted on Henriette's Herbal website.[2]
3. ^ Frei, H.J., Luethy, J., Brauchli, L., Zweifel, U., Wuergler, F.E., & Schlatter, C., Chem. Biol. Interact., 83: 1, 1992
4. ^ Sperl, W., Stuppner, H., Gassner, I.; "Reversible hepatic veno-occlusive disease in an infant after consumption of pyrrolizidine-containing herbal tea." Eur J Pediatr. 1995;154:112–6.
5. ^ Roulet, M., Laurini, R., Rivier, L., Calame, A.; "Hepatic veno-occlusive disease in newborn infant of a woman drinking herbal tea." J Pediatrics. 1988;112:433–6.
6. ^ Wawrosch, Ch.; Kopp, B.; Wiederfield, H.; "Permanent monitoring of pyrrolizidine alkaloid content in micropropagated Tussilago farfara L. : A tool to fulfill statutory demands for the quality of coltsfoot in Austria and Germany", Acta horticulturae, 2000, no. 530, pp469-472[3]

* R. Schubert & G. Wagner: Botanisches Wörterbuch Ulmer, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-8252-1476-1 (German)
* H. Haeupler & Th. Muer: Bildatlas der Farn- und Blütenpflanzen Deutschlands Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart, 2000. ISBN 3-8001-3364-4. (German)
* Gerhard Madaus: Lehrbuch der biologischen Heilmittel Bd 1. Heilpflanzen. G. Thieme, Leipzig 1938, Olms, Hildesheim 1979. ISBN 3-487-05890-1 (German)
* Guide des plantes sauvages comestibles et toxiques, les guides du naturaliste, François Couplan et Eva Stinner ISBN 2 603 00952 4 (French)
* Кирпичников М. Э. Семейство сложноцветные, или астровые (Asteraceae, или Compositae) // Жизнь растений. В 6-ти т. / Под ред. А. Л. Тахтаджяна. — М.: Просвещение, 1981. — Т. 5. Ч. 2. Цветковые растения. — С. 462—476. — 300000 экз. (Russian)

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