It has been raining most of today. In spite of that, I went outside when I got home from work. I’ve been looking for some Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) for a couple of weeks now, and today I found it pretty much right where it was growing last year:

Tussilago farfara

Tussilago farfara


I knew where it was going to come up within about a 20 foot radius, and today, it finally reared its head. This particular plant is edible and is purported to be medicinal as well. It has traditionally been used as a cough remedy, but in my opinion, any such effects are purely psychosomatic. Seems like I read a while back that no cough remedy on the market performs better than a placebo, and that agrees with my own personal experience with all cough drops.

The latin name for the genus (Tussilago) means “cough suppressant”, and that root also shows up in the word “Robitussen” (the active ingredient of which was the subject of the previously cited study).

That aside, I did make some rock candy with this stuff last year. This plant will not form leaves until after the flowers go to seed, but once it does, the leaves can be collected and boiled in water for “a while.” I prolly didn’t boil them long enough when I made it. The leaves are then removed, and a bunch of sugar is added. This is boiled down until it becomes really syrupy. Then it is poured into cold water where the syrup freezes into a hard rock candy which is supposed to double as a cough drop (but we’ve already beaten that horse, haven’t we?) When I made some, it was for the candy aspect. It tasted like…. sugar. Like I said, I prolly didn’t boil the leaves long enough.

I looked into this plant a little more tonight and found that it is not native to North America. It was imported by settlers, probably for its medicinal properties. It is now a well-established invasive species. But it doesn’t seem to spread too much, so I’m going to leave it alone in case I want some more sugar candy someday.

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