Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Coltsfoot/ Almindelig følfod

Tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot/ Almindelig Følfod is a low growing perennial herb in the daisy family Asteraceae. The name Tussilago is derived from the Latin tussis meaning cough, and ago, meaning to sast to or to act on. Tussilago farfara is the only accepted species in the genus tussilago although more than two dozen other species have at one time or another been considered part of this group, most of them are now regarded as members of other genera. Other common names include tasth plant, ass's foot, bull's foot, coughwort (Old English), farfara, foal's foot, foal's wort and horse foot. Sometimes it is confused with Petasites frigidus or Western Coltsfoot. It has been called bechion, bechichie or bechie from the Ancient Greek word for cough, also Urgula caballina: horse hoof,  pes pulli: foal's foot and chamæleuce.

Coltsfoot/photo:grethe bachmann
Coltsfoot is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers resemble superficially dandelions. They appear in early spring, march-april,  before the dandelions. The leaves resemble a colt's foot, they usually do not appear until after the seeds are set, so 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 fruits are nuts. The plant is typically 10-30 cm in height. The leaves have angular teeth on their margins. Coltsfoot grows on banks and in the edge of roads.

leaves of Coltsfoot/ wikipedia
History of agriculture/ wikipedia
Coltsfoot is native to Europe and parts of western and central Asia. The plant is widespread across Europe, Asia and North Africa, from Svalbard to Morocco, to China and the Russian Far East. 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 invasive species.

Coltsfoot/ Danish: Følfod ( foal's foot), grows wild in Denmark, it is common in the whole country as a pioneer-plant and in raw soil with high content of potassium and magnesium, often on clay ground or calcareous ground with seeping water .Coltsfoot can become a nasty weed and is very difficult to get rid of.  The plant was once a terrible and troublesome weed in the winter crop. It was said that "Følfod is the worst trouble of all to the farmer", and in 1875 the farmers were by the parliament urged to establish parish unions which should work for the extermination of følfod and other difficult weeds - and prices were given to fields without weeds. Where especially many coltsfoot grow there is usually marl in the underground.

Simon Paulli, physician/wikipedia

Folk Medicine  in Denmark: The dry pulverized root  was used against pain in the heart ( beg. 1400s). Henrik Smid 1546: destilled water of the flowers to drink, and juice from the leaves and destilled water af coltsfoot, especially together with elderflower and nightshade as a cover upon plague- acbscesses, also used against all inflamed wounds and burns  and malaria. Simon Paulli 1648: good for those who are afflicted by cough. Upon the pharmacy was made juice from the fresh flowers, a syrup against hoarseness and cough. The pharmacy had also a coltsfoot-medicine for pain in the chest. The root was used as a decoction for breast disorders. Destilled water from the whole plant against hepatitis.The juice could be rubbed at spots and pimples in the face and upon sunburns
1700s-1800s Root, leaves and flowers were written into the pharmacopoeia in 1772. The leaves smoked as tobacco helped against tightness in the chest. Tea of leaves for a spring cold. A tea from the flowers stimulated spit up, and it helped in all lung-diseases and colds. Coltsfoot was often used against cough. A decoct from the first leaves, fresh or dried, against slime in the lungs. A leaf was bound on nose and mouth against rhinitis. A wise woman adviced to bind leaves upon erysepelas and with sugar upon excemia. It was said about the leaves of coltsfoot: "the upperside purifies, the underside heals".  Coltsfoot was also used to treat diseases of the livestock.

photo Mols Bjerge/grethe bachmann

Other Use: North Jutland farmers dyed black with coltsfoot (1686-1810). On the Faroe islands  they used it to dye green. The dried leaves were smoked or mixed into the tobacco or mixed in tea. In Jutland coltsfoot was put into the bed against flees and lice. The fresh leaves can be eaten as cabbage or spinach or be cooked and served with butter. Coltsfoot  is one of the best fodderplant for the cattle and it can also be used as a swine fodder.
Source to Folk Medicine in Denmark: Brøndegaard, Folk og Flora, Dansk Etnobotanik 

Info from wikipedia:Coltsfoot has been used in herbal medicine and has been consumed as a food product with some confectionery products, such as coltsfoot rock . Tussilago farfara leaves have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or syrup) or externally (directly applied) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, locomotor system, viral infections, flu, colds, fever, rheumatism and gout. Coltsfoot is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera  species including the gothic and small angle shades.

Toxicity: please read Tussilago in wikipedia

No comments: