Roots To Health - Herbal Medicine

Coltsfoot

February is the month in which to collect and dry coltsfoot flowers. They are best gathered for herbal medicine before they have fully bloomed, which occurs from the end of February to April. Coltsfoot’s mediaeval name was Filius ante patrem, which means son-before-father and refers to its unusual habit of the flowers appearing long before the leaves which don’t appear until April/May. The yellow flowers are borne on scaly purplish stems, and are a welcome sight on the barren ground of winter.
Roots To Health - Herbal Medicine - Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot – Tussilago farfara flos

Native to Europe and found in waysides and hedgerows, and as a weed on arable land, these pretty hardy flowers can make a soothing, gentle syrup to help ease children’s coughs. The Latin name, Tussilago, means ‘to drive away a cough’ and is used very successfully for this purpose; the flowers especially are palatable and gentle enough for children. In modern herbal medicine it is used for chronic or acute bronchitis, irritating coughs, whooping cough and asthma; the flowers and leaves are generally used together. Seek them out and collect responsibly, or even better buy seeds or plants and have them as a useful addition to your garden. Enjoy.

Jayne

Recipe

Recipe for fresh coltsfoot flower syrup (from Herbalism for Health and Wellbeing by Sue Hawkey). Herb syrups make good remedies for giving to children.

Place 500g/1 ½ lb sugar or honey in a pan and add 1 litre/ 1 ¾ pints/ 4 cups water.
Heat gently, stirring, to dissolve the sugar / honey.
Add 150g / 5oz fresh coltsfoot flowers and heat gently for 5 min.
Turn off the heat and allow to steep overnight.
Strain and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
The sugar acts as a preservative, so a herb syrup will keep for 18 months.

And finally

Another lovely poem for this month from published poet and writer Nadia Kingsley:

Getting it off my chest, in February
I have to confess that, like a seventies supergroup – yes,
I knew the name of Coltsfoot but I couldn’t recognise it.
Far from fragile, those golden rays that, when I’d glanced
I had assumed were very early dandelions, rise instead
on downy stem that blushes red when touched by sun. More star
than flower, it stands in poor soil, or waterlogged, close to the edge;
there’ll be no leaves for months. And I am wondering: if I listen
carefully, along with sleepy half-starved bees, will I too hear its song?

Facebook
Email
LinkedIn
Print

Recent Blogs

Roots To Health - Herbal Medicine - Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle

It is because of plants such as the noble stinging nettle that I have great pride in my art as a Western Medical Herbalist! The nettle is so common that it is taken for granted and even regarded as a pest to be cleared, destroyed and controlled. At best it is put on the compost heap or made into a natural liquid fertilizer, but this overlooked plant is a powerhouse for healing.

Read More »
Roots To Health - Herbal Medicine - Bearberry

Bearberry

This month’s herb is little known to most people in England; although still native to the UK, it is found in the Northern latitudes and high mountains of Europe, Asia and America. In the British isles it is common in Scotland, on heaths and barren places in hilly districts, especially in the highlands and can be found as far south as Yorkshire and on the hills of the north-west of Ireland.

Read More »
Roots To Health - Herbal Medicine - Couch Grass

Couch Grass

February is the month to collect the rhizomes for couch grass. Being a gardener I know this plant can be a real pest, difficult to clear and doesn’t have much of a place in anyone’s garden! Being a Herbalist, I love it! I have a special place my garden where I let it grow to its little heart’s content not just for collecting but also out of respect for this great plant healer.

Read More »