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a genus of perennial herbaceous plants of the family Compositae. There is only one species, coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). The stems are 5-25 cm in length, tomentose, and densely covered with scalelike leaves. The rhizomes are creeping. The flower heads are solitary and droop after flowering. The golden yellow flowers blossom in early spring before the green leaves appear. The outside flowers are ligulate and pistillate; those in the middle are tubular and bisexual (but produce no fruit). The radical leaves, which appear after flowering, are orbicular-cordate, angular, irregularly toothed, and thick; the leaves are white-felted (as is the top initially). To the touch, the leaves are warm beneath and bare and cold above. The seeds have pappi.
Coltsfoot grows in the temperate regions of Eurasia (to Eastern Siberia and the Himalayas), in North Africa, and in North America (where it has been imported). It is found primarily on loamy slopes and hills, in ravines, river canyons, and wastelands, and along embankments. Coltsfoot also grows as a weed in fields. The plant contains a mucilaginous substance, the glycoside tussilagine, and inulin. An extract from the leaves is used as an expectorant and is used to treat ailments of the respiratory tract. The leaves are used in pectoral and diaphoretic compounds. Coltsfoot is an early producer of nectar.
T. V. EGOROVA