Young leaves - raw or cooked. They can be used in salads, added to soups, or cooked as a vegetable. The leaves have a bitter taste unless they are washed after being boiled. An aromatic tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves and flowers. It has a liquorice-like flavour. The dried and burnt leaves are used as a salt substitute.The slender rootstock is candied in sugar syrup.
Plants have an extensive root system and are used to stabilize banks.The leaves are a valuable addition to the compost heap.
Modern research has shown that extracts of the whole plant can increase immune resistance. In a Chinese trial 75% of patients suffering from bronchial asthma showed some improvement after treatment with this plant, though the anti-asthmatic effect was short-lived. The leaves are harvested in June and early July, the flowers are harvested when fully open and the root is harvested in the autumn. All can be dried and used as required. The plant is antitussive, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. It is widely used in the treatment of coughs and respiratory problems and is often candied so that it can be sucked as a sweet. The plant is of particular use in the treatment of chronic emphysema and silicosis, helping to relieve the persistent cough associated with these conditions. Coltsfoot is particularly effective when used in combination with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza species), thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and wild cherry (Prunus serotina). A poultice of the flowers has a soothing effect on a range of skin disorders including eczema, ulcers, sores, bites and inflammations.A bitter, tonic and diaphoretic preparation can be obtained from the root.
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Plants are hardy to about -29°c.Coltsfoot is a very tough plant that is more than capable of looking after itself. When well sited its roots will spread very freely sending up new shoots at some distance from the clump even if growing amongst dense weed competition[K]. This can make it a problem weed in gardens, so either choose your site with care or find some means of restraining it such as by planting in a large tub that is buried in the ground[K]. The rhizomes can lay dormant in the soil for many years, emerging when the soil is disturbed.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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