Large chunks of ice, remnants of the winter ice break up, loomed ominously along the far bank of the creek. But along the bank on this side, the sunny side, the ice blocks have melted and there are numerous unidentifiable green shoots of all shapes, shades and sizes; little promises of bigger things to come. In another week or so I hope to find the wild oats and windflowers blooming before the giant false hellebore, asters, briars, and poison ivy make the bank nearly impassable.
(Tussilago farfara) is one of the earliest spring wildflowers to
bloom. Its flower is somewhat like the familiar dandelion, but smaller.
It grows on a short, stout, scaly stalk which gets thinner as it grows
taller. It blooms and goes to seed (also in dandelion-like puffball fashion)
before the leaves begin to grow. The leaves themselves become quite large,
up to seven or eight inches across, and are vaguely octagonal in shape.
It is said that they resemble a colt's hoof print, from which it takes
its common name, but never having seen a colt's hoof print, I can't say.
They are thick, rich green and densely fuzzy underneath.
Coltsfoot has been used as a medicine throughout the ages. A tea made from either the fresh flowers or leaves, once they have reached full size, is good for coughs and colds and even for bronchitis or pleurisy. It is used as an ingredient still today in cough drops.
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