Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

Species of the Month – March 2016

Tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot is a cheerful sight along road and path sides in March, being one of the earliest plants to flower.  When the flowers appear there are no leaves, just scales up the stem.  The young leaves begin to appear after the flowers are out.

Tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot growing in sandy soil at the head of Loch Feochan.  It is usually found in bare damp places, often on road verges or other disturbed ground, but also on mud or gravel beside burns and rivers.

Tussilago farfara Tussilago farfara

The flowers are a bit like those of Dandelions but have a bundle of tubular florets in the centre, like a Daisy, with ray florets all round the outside.  Dandelion and similar flowers only have the ray florets.  The tubular florets in Coltsfoot have nectar to attract bees, but it can pollinate itself if there are no bees around.

Tussilago farfara Tussilago farfaraFrom a distance the seedheads look like white flowers in the grass

The stems are upright when flowering, then droop after flowering, and become upright again when the seedheads form.  For photos of this and of the leaves see Coltsfoot page on West Highland Flora.

Tussilago farfara

The fruting head is like a Dandelion “clock”.  Each seed is attached to a feathery pappus which enables it to blow away in the wind.

Please send in your Coltsfoot sightings using the form below, or email with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your plant, please send a photo to, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.


Date of sighting
Grid reference
Number seen
Name of finder
Your name (if different)
Email (not needed if I already know it!)
Any other details, e.g quantity, habitat  



By filling in this form you consent to your record being passed on to the appropriate recording scheme.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer

LNHG Biological Records Manager

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous March species:

Mar 2015 – Hebrew Character
Mar 2014 – Hairy Bittercress
Mar 2013 – Oak Beauty
Mar 2012 – March Moth
Mar 2011 – Frogspawn

Last month’s page

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer except where stated.