Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Colt's-foot is a perennial species that arises from rhizomes (3). The flowers, which are present from February to April (6), close at night and in poor weather and are pollinated by a range of flies and bees (2) (1). The seeds are dispersed by wind, but to seedlings require constantly moist conditions to survive. Most plants spread from the rhizome by vegetative reproduction (1). This plant has been put to a wide range of uses through the years (4). The leaves can be incorporated into salads, cooked and used to make tea. The felt from the leaves has been used as a stuffing agent and dried for use as tinder. Colt's-foot is still available in health-food outlets as a treatment for coughs and other chest problems. The plant must be boiled before being ingested as it contains substances that can be toxic to the liver (6).
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Description

Colt's foot is one of the earliest flowers each spring. The alternative name 'son-before-father' refers to the fact that the bright yellow flowers held on purplish woolly shoots are often present before the leaves (4) (5). The large leaves with their thick felt-covered undersides occur in rosettes (2). They are similar in shape to animal hooves, hence the names colt's or foal's-foot. The scientific name Tussilago derives from the latin for 'cough' (Tussis), and hints at the widespread smoking of the dried leaves in folk-medicine to cure coughs (4) (5). It is still smoked in some areas today as herbal tobacco, and the names 'baccy plant' and 'poor-man's-baccy' survive in some parts of Britain (4).
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Coltsfoot is nonnative in North America. It is most widespread in the eastern United States from Minnesota south to Tennessee, east to North Carolina, and north to Maine [36,43,57,95,106]. It occurs throughout southern Ontario, southern Quebec, and the Canadian Maritime provinces. It is also found in southwestern British Columbia and Vancouver Island [83] and occasionally west of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest [43]. Plants Database provides a distributional map of coltsfoot.

Coltsfoot is native to Europe, western Asia, and northwestern Africa ([33,36,43], Hulten and Fries 1986 cited in [48]). Coltsfoot's native geographical distribution extends from the British Isles east to Siberia, north to the Arctic Circle, and south to the Himalayas [62]. Coltsfoot was probably introduced from its native range to the United States by early European settlers for its medicinal properties (see Other Uses) [95]. It was present in the United States as early as 1840 [105] and present in Canada in the 1920s [109]. Coltsfoot has escaped from cultivation and has spread extensively (see Impacts) [48].

  • 36. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 43. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 57. Magee, Dennis W.; Ahles, Harry E. 2007. Flora of the Northeast: A manual of the vascular flora of New England and adjacent New York. 2nd ed. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1214 p. [74293]
  • 62. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1966. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L. and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. I. General biology and germination. New Phytologist. 65(2): 192-210. [80442]
  • 83. Scoggan, H. J. 1978. The flora of Canada. Part 4: Dicotyledoneae (Dictoyledonceae to Compositae). National Museum of Natural Sciences: Publications in Botany, No. 7(4). Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. 1711 p. [78054]
  • 105. Voss, Edward G. 1996. Michigan flora. Part III: Dicots (Pyrolaceae--Compositae). Bulletin 61. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 622 p. [30401]
  • 106. Weakley, Alan S. 2010. Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic states. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Herbarium; North Carolina Botanical Garden. Working draft of 8 March, 2010 on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 994 p. [81740]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]
  • 48. Invasive Species Specialist Group. 2005. Ecology of Tussilago farfara, [Online]. In: Global Invasive Species Database. The World Conservation Union, Invasive Species Specialist Group (Producer). Available: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=426&fr=1&sts=sss&lang=EN [2011, January 11]. [81692]
  • 95. Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. 2009. Invasive plants of Tennessee, [Online]. In: TN-EPPC invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee--December 2009. 2nd ed. Fairview, TN: Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council (Producer). Available: http://www.tneppc.org/invasive_plants [2010, June 23]. [80199]
  • 109. Wright, Harvey. 1997. Coltsfoot. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. 5 p. Available online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/coltsfoot.htm [2011, January 18]. [81722]

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Range

Common throughout Britain, reaching heights of up to 1065m in Scotland (2) (3). Elsewhere, this species is found throughout most of Europe reaching its northernmost extreme in Norway. It also occurs in North Africa, western and northern Asia, and has been introduced to North America (2).
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N. Africa, Europe, Asia eastwards to China, introduced in N. America.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: adventitious, forb, formation, pappus, rhizome, root crown

Botanical description: This description covers characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g., [36,43,57,79,84]).

Form and architecture: Coltsfoot is a rhizomatous perennial forb [36,43,57] that is 2 to 20 inches (5-50 cm) tall [36,43].

Reproductive structures: Coltsfoot flowers resemble that of common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) but are smaller and have disc florets and numerous, radiate, yellow ray florets [19,36,57,79]. Disc florets are sterile, whereas ray florets are fertile [36,57,84]. In a flower head, 3 to 80 disc florets are surrounded by 150 to 500 ray florets in several rows (Bakker 1952 cited in [4]). Flower heads are 1.00 to 1.25 inches (2.54-3.18 cm) wide and occur singly at the top of flowering stems [19,36,57].

Flowering stems are covered with wooly hairs and scaly bracts and emerge in early spring prior to the leaves [19,36,43,57,79]. Several flowering stems arise from one root crown. Flowering stems are 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) tall when flowering begins and may reach 12 to 20 inches (30-51 cm) tall by the time flowers mature [19,57].

Coltsfoot seeds are achenes with a small pappus, resembling that of the common dandelion [62,64,95]. The seeds are small nutlets about 0.1 to 0.2 inch (0.3-0.4 cm) long [30,33,64] and weigh approximately 0.3 mg each [10,11,33].

Photo courtesy of Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Bugwood.org

Leaves: Coltsfoot leaves emerge after flowers mature [19,57]. Leaves grow in the form of a basal rosette. They are long-petioled, heart-shaped [19,36,43,57], and 2 to 8 inches (5-20 cm) long [19,36]. They are deciduous [11].

Underground structures: Upon germination, coltsfoot has a branched primary tap root that may grow 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) deep before leaves emerge [4,62,69]. The primary root dies 3 to 4 months after germination. In the meantime, adventitious roots develop from the first nodes of the stem. Adventitious roots may grow up to 5 feet (1.5 m) deep.

Coltsfoot has a deep, extensive rhizome system [19,39]. As early as 2 to 4 months after germination, rhizomes grow out from the basal leaf axils. Rhizomes may produce aerial vegetative shoots in their first year [4]. Rhizomes may grow >3 feet (1 m) between the time of initiation and the formation of aerial shoots [69] and may grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m) long [67]. According to fact sheets, rhizomes may grow up to 10 feet (3 m) deep [19], but most grow between 2 and 8 inches (5-20 cm) deep [109]. Rhizomes are brittle, and fragmentation of plants by breaking and rotting of rhizomes leads to development of independent ramets that are genetically identical to their parent [13,73]. Generally, a rhizome initiated in one year produces aerial shoots the succeeding year, and these shoots produce flowers in the third year. After this the rhizome usually dies, leading to fragmentation of the rhizome system [13,62,69]. In hydric soils in the Netherlands, the central parts of some coltsfoot clones died in the second year after establishment, while the outer parts survived [4]. Thus, new growth may occur at points distant from that of the previous year [62].

Physiology: Coltsfoot is apparently salt tolerant. In New York, coltsfoot occurred along the southwestern shore of Onondaga Lake near Syracuse, New York, where saline industrial residues (finely ground limestone rich in salts) were dumped 34 years prior to the study [111]. In East Bohemia, Czech Republic, coltsfoot persisted on a road bank that was exposed to winter salt spray through a 7-year study [51]. Coltsfoot also appears to be tolerant of intermittent flooding (e.g., [47,72,93]). For more information on coltsfoot's soil moisture tolerance, see Site Characteristics.

  • 36. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 43. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 57. Magee, Dennis W.; Ahles, Harry E. 2007. Flora of the Northeast: A manual of the vascular flora of New England and adjacent New York. 2nd ed. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1214 p. [74293]
  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 10. Bostock, S. J. 1978. Seed germination strategies of five perennial weeds. Oecologia. 36: 113-126. [37496]
  • 11. Bostock, S. J.; Benton, R. A. 1979. The reproductive strategies of five perennial Compositae. Journal of Ecology. 67(1): 91-107. [37263]
  • 13. Bostock, Stephen J. 1980. Variation in reproductive allocation in Tussilago farfara. Oikos. 34(3): 359-363. [80445]
  • 30. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of edible weeds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 246 p. [52780]
  • 39. Hakansson, Sigurd. 1982. Multiplication, growth and persistence of perennial weeds. In: Holzner, W.; Numata, M., eds. Biology and ecology of weeds. The Hague: Dr. W. Junk: 123-135. [47816]
  • 47. Huntley, Brian; Birks, H. J. B. 1979. The past and present vegetation of the Morrone Birkwoods National Nature Reserve, Scotland. II. Woodland vegetation and soils. Journal of Ecology. 67(2): 447-467. [81750]
  • 51. Klimes, Leos. 1987. Succession in road bank vegetation. Folia Geobotanica et Phytotaxonomica. 22(4): 435-440. [73535]
  • 62. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1966. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L. and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. I. General biology and germination. New Phytologist. 65(2): 192-210. [80442]
  • 64. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1987. Production and germination of Tussilago farfara (L.) diaspores. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 56(3): 527-542. [80456]
  • 67. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1993. Expansion of Tussillago farfara L. in disturbed environments. I. Population renewal under conditions of plant cover destruction. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 62(1-2): 75-81. [80459]
  • 69. Ogden, John. 1974. The reproductive strategy of higher plants. II. The reproductive strategy of Tussilago Farfara L. Journal of Ecology. 62(1): 291-324. [80438]
  • 73. Pfeiffer, Tanja; Gunzel, Corinna; Frey, Wolfgang. 2008. Clonal reproduction, vegetative multiplication and habitat colonisation in Tussilago farfara (Asteraceae): a combined morpho-ecological and molecular study. Flora. 203(4): 281-291. [81734]
  • 79. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 84. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2nd ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 93. Suiter, Dale W.; Evans, Dan K. 1999. Vascular flora and rare species of New River Gorge National River, West Virginia. Castanea. 64(1): 23-49. [71705]
  • 111. Young, Vernon A. 1936. Certain sociological aspects associated with plant competition between native and foreign species in a saline area. Ecology. 17(1): 133-142. [80449]
  • 19. Cardina, John; Herms, Cathy; Koch, Tim; Webster, Ted. 2003. Ohio perennial and biennial weed guide, [Online]. In: OSU weed managment--Weed identification resources. In: Agronomic Crops Network. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Producer). Available: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/listall.asp [2009, November 3]. [76487]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]
  • 72. Perles, Stephanie J.; Podniesinski, Gregory S.; Eastman, E.; Sneddon, Lesley A.; Gawler, Sue C. 2007. Classification and mapping of vegetation and fire fuel models at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Volume 2 of 2--Appendix G, [Online]. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2007/076. Philadelphia, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Northeast Region, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science (Producer). 400 p. Available: http://www.nps.gov/nero/science/FINAL/DEWA_veg_map/DEWA_veg_map.htm [2010, March 3]. [79090]
  • 95. Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. 2009. Invasive plants of Tennessee, [Online]. In: TN-EPPC invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee--December 2009. 2nd ed. Fairview, TN: Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council (Producer). Available: http://www.tneppc.org/invasive_plants [2010, June 23]. [80199]
  • 109. Wright, Harvey. 1997. Coltsfoot. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. 5 p. Available online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/coltsfoot.htm [2011, January 18]. [81722]

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Description

Basal leaves: blades palmately 5–12-lobed or -angled, mostly 5–20+ × 5–20+ cm, margins irregularly denticulate. Cauline leaves mostly 5–25 mm. Calyculi: bractlets 5–15 mm. Phyllaries mostly 7–15 mm. Ray corollas: laminae (2–)4–10 mm. Disc corollas 10–12 mm. Cypselae 3–4 mm; pappi 8–12 mm, ± surpassing involucres. 2n = 60.
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Elevation Range

2800-3800 m
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: association, cover, mesic, restoration

Coltsfoot establishes on lowland and upland sites with a range of soil and climatic conditions, but is most common on moist soils in cool climates. According to fact sheets, coltsfoot grows best in low-lying mesic areas including streambanks and moist grasslands and in disturbed areas such as roadsides, although it also grows in dry sites [95]. It prefers full sun (see Seedling establishment and plant growth). It primarily establishes on open, disturbed sites, though it may occasionally occur in intact native plant communities including wetlands and forests. See Habitat Types and Plant Communities for descriptions of plant communities where coltsfoot occurs.

Soils: According to a fact sheet from Ohio, coltsfoot prefers moist, clay soils in cool climates [19].

Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org

Texture: Coltsfoot occurs in clays [9], silts [99], loams [28], silt loams [82,99], silty clay loams [90,99], sandy loams [2,99], and sands [25,64]. Coltsfoot occurs in peatlands in its native [81] and North American [23] ranges. In the Cayuga Lake Basin in New York, Turner [99] concluded that the "optimum" soil textures for coltsfoot were silt loam and silty clay loam.

pH: Coltsfoot occurs in soils with pH ranging from 4.6 to 10 [2,2,13,23,62,64,99,112]. It occurs primarily on neutral to very strongly alkaline soils [2,13,62]. In the Cayuga Lake Basin in New York, coltsfoot did not occur in soils with pH <6.9; 20% of plants occurred in neutral (7.0 pH) soils; and most plants (45%) occurred in soils with pH >7.1 [99].

Soil fertility: Coltsfoot can occur in infertile (e.g., [82,90]) to very fertile (e.g., [28]) soils. Coltsfoot's tolerance of extremely infertile soils caused Myerscough and Whitehead [62] to suggest that coltsfoot "appears to have a competitive advantage in that germination can occur at lower levels of nutrient concentration than in other species". Coltsfoot is mycorrhizal, and symbiotic vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae were found on coltsfoot roots in Pennsylvania [60].

Moisture: Coltsfoot occurs in dry and moist soils but is most common in moist soils. Coltsfoots was listed as a facultative upland species in Ohio. Facultative upland species were those that usually occurred in nonwetland habitats (67-99% of the time) but occasionally occurred in wetlands (Sabine 1993 cited in [107]).

Coltsfoot commonly occurs in poorly drained and intermittently flooded areas. In the Cayuga Lake Basin in New York, coltsfoot was "fairly abundant" in poorly drained silt loam, abundant in moderately well-drained silty clay loam, fairly abundant in well-drained fine sandy loam, and scarce in marly silt of marshy basins and outlets of marl springs [99]. In the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, coltsfoot occurred on low river banks in the black willow/reed canarygrass-Indianhemp association that was intermittently flooded [72]. In the Pra River floodplain in Russia, coltsfoot occurred in burned peatlands that were flooded for 1 to 2 months in spring and had a high groundwater table (16-20 inches (40-50 cm) deep) in summer [112]. In Germany, coltsfoot occurred in wet, shaded oak-alder (Quercus spp.-Alnus spp.) stands along a river bank [73]. In Scotland, coltsfoot occurred in very open gravel-flushes and springs within woodlands where cover was patchy; it appeared to be tolerant of rapid water flow and periodic submergence [47]. In the British Isles, coltsfoot occurred in calcareous seepage fens (Clapman 1953 cited in [62]).

Two years after forest restoration efforts on a surface mine in eastern Kentucky, coltsfoot established on brown, weathered sandstone ("brown spoils") and had the highest cover of any plant species (51% cover). Coltsfoot did not occur on gray, weathered sandstone ("gray spoils") or mixed weathered and unweathered sandstones and shale ("mixed soils"). Total vegetation cover was 66%, 6%, and 2% on brown, gray, and mixed spoils, respectively. Three years after restoration efforts, coltsfoot remained dominant in brown spoils and became dominant in gray and mixed spoils. Coltsfoot cover was 30%, 41%, and 30% on brown, gray and mixed spoils, respectively. Differences in coltsfoot cover on the 3 spoils was explained in part by soil moisture and pH. Brown spoils had the highest soil moisture and gray spoils the least. Brown spoils were moderately acidic to neutral (pH 6.0-6.6), whereas mixed and gray spoils were moderately to strongly alkaline (pH 8.1-8.6) [2].

Coltsfoot infrequently occurs in dry soils. In Great Falls Park, Virginia, coltsfoot was rare in white oak-red oak-mockernut hickory forest on dry middle or upper slopes and ridges with high solar exposure [90]. In Germany, coltsfoot occurred in a sunny, dry gravel pit [73].

Climate: Coltsfoot appears to prefer cool, moist climates [106]. Cold temperatures in winter are apparently required for breaking bud dormancy in early spring [61]. According to Ogden [69], coltsfoot seems well-adapted to places in which the growing season is short and the winter severe.

Mean maximum and minimum temperatures and mean annual precipitation of some sites with coltsfoot in North America
Location Mean annual temperature (°C) Mean annual precipitation (mm)
Minimum Maximum
King George County, Pennsylvania 7.7 31.7 1,019 [88]
Prince Georges and Charles counties, Maryland 5.9 19.6 1,144 [91]
Quebec City, Quebec -12 18 924 [23]

In Europe, coltsfoot occurred on sites where mean annual temperature ranged from 47 to 49 °F (8.5-9.2 °C) and mean annual precipitation ranged from 19 to 33 inches (480-850 mm) [28,38,68].

Fruiting timing is affected by elevation and temperature. During one year near Bath, England, coltsfoot plants in the valley (elevation 65 feet (20 m)) bloomed 36 days earlier than plants on the plateau (elevation 720 feet (220 m)) [5]. An analysis of 36 years of first flowering dates in central England found that coltsfoot flowered earlier following warm winters, whereas warm temperatures in fall resulted in later flowering the following spring [32].

The relationship between temperature and coltsfoot flowering has been used to study potential effects from climatic warming. In central England, models based on 36 years of first flowering dates suggested that an increase in monthly mean temperature by 1.8 °F (1.0 °C) may advance coltsfoot flowering by 20 days [32]. Timing of flowering by coltsfoot may be affected by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which accounts for much of the interannual variation in wintertime temperature and precipitation in the northern hemisphere and exhibits phases of increase and decrease that persist over decades. Analysis of 34 to 50 years of flowering data from Norway found that coltsfoot flowering was negatively related to the NAO index of the preceding winter at 20 out of 23 sites (P≤0.05 for all tests); coltsfoot plants bloomed earlier following warm, wet winters. Following increasingly warm, wet winters, the flowering season was prolonged by an average of 18.5 days [74].

Elevation: As of this writing (2011), few authors reported elevation data for sites with coltsfoot in North America. In coltsfoot's native range in the British Isles, it occurs from sea level to 3,497 feet (1,066 m) [33]. In Europe, coltsfoot occurs from sea level to 7,500 feet (2,300 m) in the Alps Range [38,51,68,70,73,74,97]. Coltsfoot occurs from 7,580 to 10,100 feet (2,310-3,080 m) in the Himalayas in Pakistan [27].

Topography: Coltsfoot occurs on level to gently sloping topography (e.g., [25,46]) and on steep, erosional slopes, especially road cuts (e.g., [38,88,94]).

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  • 38. Guardia, R.; Gallart, F.; Ninot, J. M. 2000. Soil seed bank and seedling dynamics in badlands of the Upper Llobregat basin (Pyrenees). Catena. 40(2): 189-202. [81744]
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  • 64. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1987. Production and germination of Tussilago farfara (L.) diaspores. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 56(3): 527-542. [80456]
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  • 69. Ogden, John. 1974. The reproductive strategy of higher plants. II. The reproductive strategy of Tussilago Farfara L. Journal of Ecology. 62(1): 291-324. [80438]
  • 70. Palmer, W. H.; Miller, A. K. 1961. Botanical evidence for the recession of a glacier. Oikos. 12(1): 75-86. [81729]
  • 73. Pfeiffer, Tanja; Gunzel, Corinna; Frey, Wolfgang. 2008. Clonal reproduction, vegetative multiplication and habitat colonisation in Tussilago farfara (Asteraceae): a combined morpho-ecological and molecular study. Flora. 203(4): 281-291. [81734]
  • 74. Post, Eric; Stenseth, Nils Christian. 1999. Climatic variability, plant phenology, and northern ungulates. Ecology. 80(4): 1322-1339. [78533]
  • 81. Salonen, Veikko. 1990. Early plant succession in two abandoned cut-over peatland areas. Holarctic Ecology. 13(3): 217-223. [81725]
  • 82. Schmidt, Wolfgang; Brubach, Martina. 1993. Plant distribution patterns during early succession on an artificial protosoil. Journal of Vegetation Science. 4(2): 247-254. [76429]
  • 88. Simmons, Mark P.; Ware, Donna M. E.; Hayden, W. John. 1995. The vascular flora of the Potomac River watershed of King George County, Virginia. Castanea. 60(3): 179-209. [73734]
  • 90. Steury, Brent W.; Fleming, Gary P.; Strong, Mark T. 2008. An emendation of the vascular flora of Great Falls Park, Fairfax County, Virginia. Castanea. 73(2): 123-149. [72479]
  • 91. Steury, Brent W; Davis, Charles A. 2003. The vascular flora of Piscataway and Fort Washington National Parks, Prince Georges and Charles counties, Maryland. Castanea. 68(4): 271-299. [73054]
  • 94. Tansley, A. G.; Adamson, R. S. 1925. Studies of the vegetation of the English chalk. III. The chalk grasslands of Hampshire-Sussex border. Journal of Ecology. 13(2): 177-223. [81753]
  • 99. Turner, J. Authur. 1928. Relation of the distribution of certain Compositae to the hydrogen-ion concentration of the soil. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 55(4): 199-213. [73909]
  • 106. Weakley, Alan S. 2010. Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic states. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Herbarium; North Carolina Botanical Garden. Working draft of 8 March, 2010 on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 994 p. [81740]
  • 107. Wilder, George J.; McCombs, Martha R. 1999. A floristic study of Fawn Pond and surrounding territory (Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area and Brecksville, Ohio). Castanea. 64(1): 50-63. [73742]
  • 112. Zaidel'man, F. R.; Morozova, D. I.; Shvarov, A. P.; Batrak, M. V. 2006. Vegetation and pedogenesis on pyrogenic substrates of former peat soils. Eurasian Soil Science. 39(1): 12-20. [81730]
  • 19. Cardina, John; Herms, Cathy; Koch, Tim; Webster, Ted. 2003. Ohio perennial and biennial weed guide, [Online]. In: OSU weed managment--Weed identification resources. In: Agronomic Crops Network. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Producer). Available: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/listall.asp [2009, November 3]. [76487]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]
  • 72. Perles, Stephanie J.; Podniesinski, Gregory S.; Eastman, E.; Sneddon, Lesley A.; Gawler, Sue C. 2007. Classification and mapping of vegetation and fire fuel models at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Volume 2 of 2--Appendix G, [Online]. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2007/076. Philadelphia, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Northeast Region, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science (Producer). 400 p. Available: http://www.nps.gov/nero/science/FINAL/DEWA_veg_map/DEWA_veg_map.htm [2010, March 3]. [79090]
  • 95. Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. 2009. Invasive plants of Tennessee, [Online]. In: TN-EPPC invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee--December 2009. 2nd ed. Fairview, TN: Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council (Producer). Available: http://www.tneppc.org/invasive_plants [2010, June 23]. [80199]
  • 97. Topalova-Rzerzycha, Latinka. 2006. Fire and environment: ecological and cultural aspects. Through conflict to sustainable management--case study in the Doupki-Djindjiritza Biosphere Reserve, Bulgaria. Final Report. [Paris]:[Unesco]. 60 p. [+appendices]. Available online: http://www.unesco.org/mab/doc/mys/2005/bulgaria.pdf. [2011, January 20 ]. [81745]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, fen, fire regime, nonnative species, swamp

Plant community associations of nonnative species are often difficult to describe accurately
because detailed survey information is lacking, there are gaps in understanding of nonnative
species' ecological characteristics, and nonnative species may still be expanding their
North American range. Therefore, coltsfoot may occur in plant communities other than those
discussed here and listed in the Fire Regime Table.

Coltsfoot occurs in a variety of habitats and plant communities throughout the United States
and Canada that are similar to those of its native range (see Site Characteristics). It occurs in upland and floodplain forests and woodlands; in wetlands
and along riverbanks and shorelines of lakes and ponds; and in grasslands. It also occurs in anthropogenically disturbed areas such as cultivated, fallow, and successional fields, railroad rights-of-way, roadsides, and ditches (e.g., [21,22,29,31,41,57,59,88,90,93]).
Wetlands and shoreline communities:
Coltsfoot commonly occurs in and on the edge of rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, marshes, and fens. In Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland,
coltsfoot occasionally dominated highly disturbed gravel riverbanks [80].
Near Quebec City, Quebec, it was the most abundant species in ditches in lowland boreal peatlands
[23]. It occurred on a sand dune dominated by switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
and Great Lakes wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus spp. psammophilus) on the
northern shore of Lake Erie, Ontario [113]. On Timber Island in Lake Winnipesaukee,
New Hampshire, coltsfoot was infrequent in moist and wet crevices along the shoreline [14].
In Strouds Run State Park, south-central Ohio, it occurred in marshes and on lake edges [41].
In the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, coltsfoot occurred in the northern
bayberry-shrubby cinquefoil/dioecious sedge-yellow sedge (Morella pensylvanica-
Dasiphora fruticosa spp. floribunda/Carex sterilis-Carex flava)
marl fen association [72]. Along the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia, coltsfoot
occurred in an American eelgrass-pondweed (Vallisneria americana-Potamogeton spp.) wetland [93]. In Kentucky, coltsfoot occurred in mud flats along Cave Run Lake [54].
In King George County, Virginia, it occurred along steeply sloped river bluffs and on beach
berms located at the bases of these bluffs [88]. In Washington, it occurred in a larch
(Larix spp.) swamp [31].
Riparian floodplain and bottomland communities: In the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, coltsfoot commonly occurs in mixed-hardwood riparian floodplain and bottomland communities. In Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, coltsfoot
was one of the most common nonnative herbaceous species within canopy gaps in lowland balsam fir-white spruce-paper birch (Abies balsamifera-Picea alba-Betula papyrifera) forest [46]. In the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, it occurred on low riverbanks
in the black willow/reed canarygrass-Indianhemp (Salix nigra/Phalaris arundinacea-Apocynum cannabinum) temporarily flooded shrubland association [72].
In Prince Georges and Charles counties, Maryland, it was rare in oak-sweetgum-red maple
(Quercus spp.-Liquidambar styraciflua-Acer rubrum) woodlands in the
Piscataway Creek floodplain [91]. Along the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia,
coltsfoot occurred in yellow-poplar-white oak-northern red oak-sugar maple (Liriodendron tulipifera-Quercus alba-Q. rubra-Acer saccharum) forest on bottomlands and slopes that
ranged from rarely flooded to frequently flooded and in sycamore-river birch forest that was
often flooded during high water [93].
Upland forest communities: Near Montreal, Quebec, coltsfoot occurred in an old-growth sugar maple-American beech (Fagus grandifolia)-northern red oak forest 5 years after an ice storm [35]. At the Waterloo Wildlife Research Station in Athens County, Ohio, it occurred in 7- to 9-year-old clearcuts dominated by pin oak (Quercus palustris), red maple, yellow-poplar, and bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata) with an understory of
sassafras (Sassafras albidum), common greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia), and
blackberry (Rubus spp.) [89]. In south-central Pennsylvania, it occurred in white oak-white
ash (Fraxinus americana)-northern red oak forests [110].
In Great Falls Park, Fairfax County, Virginia, it was rare in white oak-northern red oak-mockernut hickory/flowering dogwood/deerberry-nakedflower ticktrefoil (Carya alba/Cornus
florida/Vaccinium stamineum-Desmodium nudiflorum) forest on dry middle or upper
slopes and ridges [90].
  • 57. Magee, Dennis W.; Ahles, Harry E. 2007. Flora of the Northeast: A manual of the vascular flora of New England and adjacent New York. 2nd ed. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1214 p. [74293]
  • 14. Bradley, Adam F.; Crow, Garrett E. 2010. The flora and vegetation of Timber Island, Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, U.S.A. Rhodora. 112(950): 156-190. [80508]
  • 21. Christen, Douglas C.; Matlack, Glenn R. 2009. The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biological Invasions. 11(2): 453-465. [73802]
  • 22. Clarkson, Roy B. 1966. The vascular flora of the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. Castanea. 31(1): 1-119. [73746]
  • 23. Cobbaert, D.; Rochefort, L.; Price, J. S. 2004. Experimental restoration of a fen plant community after peat mining. Applied Vegetation Science. 7(2): 209-220. [80437]
  • 29. Duguay, Stephanie; Eigenbrod, Felix; Fahrig, Lenore. 2007. Effects of surrounding urbanization on non-native flora in small forest patches. Landscape Ecology. 22(4): 589-599. [71249]
  • 31. Farwell, Oliver Atkins. 1923. Botanical gleanings in Michigan. The American Midland Naturalist. 8(12): 263-280. [80833]
  • 35. Gilbert, Benjamin; Lechowicz, Martin J. 2005. Invasibility and abiotic gradients: the positive correlation between native and exotic plant diversity. Ecology. 86(7): 1848-1855. [54771]
  • 41. Harrelson, Sarah M.; Cantino, Philip D. 2006. The terrestrial vascular flora of Strounds Run State Park, Athens County, Ohio. Rhodora. 108(934): 142-183. [72485]
  • 46. Humber, Jessica M. 2009. Non-native plant invasion of boreal forest gaps: implications for stand regeneration in a protected area shaped by hyperabundant herbivores. St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador: Memorial University of Newfoundland. 214 p. Thesis. [81741]
  • 54. Luken, James O.; Thieret, John W. 2001. Floristic relationships of mud flats and shorelines at Cave Run Lake, Kentucky. Castanea. 66(4): 336-351. [76230]
  • 59. Matlack, Glenn. 2007. Are roadsides a red carpet for invasive species? In: Cavender, Nicole, ed. Ohio invasive plants research conference, Proceedings: Continuing partnerships for invasive plant management; 2007 January 18; Ironton, OH. Columbus, OH: Ohio Biological Survey: 7-12. [76568]
  • 80. Rose, Michael; Hermanutz, Luise. 2004. Are boreal ecosystems susceptible to alien plant invasion? Evidence from protected areas. Oecologia. 139(3): 467-477. [48554]
  • 88. Simmons, Mark P.; Ware, Donna M. E.; Hayden, W. John. 1995. The vascular flora of the Potomac River watershed of King George County, Virginia. Castanea. 60(3): 179-209. [73734]
  • 89. Small, Christine J.; McCarthy, Brian C. 2001. Vascular flora of the Waterloo Wildlife Research Station, Athens County, Ohio. Castanea. 66(4): 363-382. [71703]
  • 90. Steury, Brent W.; Fleming, Gary P.; Strong, Mark T. 2008. An emendation of the vascular flora of Great Falls Park, Fairfax County, Virginia. Castanea. 73(2): 123-149. [72479]
  • 91. Steury, Brent W; Davis, Charles A. 2003. The vascular flora of Piscataway and Fort Washington National Parks, Prince Georges and Charles counties, Maryland. Castanea. 68(4): 271-299. [73054]
  • 93. Suiter, Dale W.; Evans, Dan K. 1999. Vascular flora and rare species of New River Gorge National River, West Virginia. Castanea. 64(1): 23-49. [71705]
  • 110. Yahner, R. H.; Storm, G. L.; Melton, R. E.; Vecellio, G. M.; Cottam, D. F. 1991. Floral inventory and vegetative cover type mapping of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site. Tech. Rep. NPS/MAR/NRTR-91/050. Philadelphia, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Mid-Atlantic Region. 149 p. [17986]
  • 113. Zhang, Jianhua; Maun, M. A. 1991. Establishment and growth of Panicum virgatum L. seedlings on a Lake Erie sand dune. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 141-153. [15700]
  • 72. Perles, Stephanie J.; Podniesinski, Gregory S.; Eastman, E.; Sneddon, Lesley A.; Gawler, Sue C. 2007. Classification and mapping of vegetation and fire fuel models at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Volume 2 of 2--Appendix G, [Online]. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2007/076. Philadelphia, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Northeast Region, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science (Producer). 400 p. Available: http://www.nps.gov/nero/science/FINAL/DEWA_veg_map/DEWA_veg_map.htm [2010, March 3]. [79090]

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Occurs in a range of habitats that are typically disturbed, including rough grassland, shingle and sand dunes, road verges, waste ground, cliff slopes, spoil heaps and river banks. In agricultural areas, colt's-foot can be a stubborn arable weed (2) (3).
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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / miner
larva of Acidia cognata mines leaf of Tussilago farfara

Foodplant / spot causer
subcuticular mycelial strands of Asteroma coelomycetous anamorph of Asteroma impressum causes spots on live leaf of Tussilago farfara

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous telium of Coleosporium tussilaginis parasitises live leaf of Tussilago farfara
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces cichoracearum parasitises live Tussilago farfara

Foodplant / open feeder
adult of Longitarsus gracilis grazes on leaf of Tussilago farfara

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous colony of Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Mycosphaerella tussilaginis causes spots on live leaf of Tussilago farfara

Foodplant / miner
larva of Phytomyza tussilaginis mines leaf of Tussilago farfara

Foodplant / parasite
pycnium of Puccinia poarum parasitises leaf of Tussilago farfara
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous, subepidermal, covered then bursting at apex pycnidium of Stagonospora coelomycetous anamorph of Stagonospora tussilaginis causes spots on live leaf of Tussilago farfara
Remarks: season: 7-8

Foodplant / open feeder
nocturnal larva of Tenthredo mandibularis grazes on leaf of Tussilago farfara
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / miner
larva of Trypeta zoe mines leaf of Tussilago farfara
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Foodplant / miner
larva of Vidalia cornuta mines leaf of Tussilago farfara
Remarks: Other: uncertain

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fire suppression, prescribed fire, restoration, wildfire

Potential for postfire establishment and spread: Coltsfoot possesses traits that are likely to allow it to survive and establish after fire (see Fire adaptations). The available literature documents coltsfoot establishment in burned areas following wildfire [24,25,85,97,112]. In one study, coltsfoot established from seed from adjacent unburned areas [24] (see Plant response to fire).

Preventing postfire establishment and spread: Because of its potential for long-distance seed dispersal, coltsfoot may establish on burned sites via wind-dispersed seed. Thus, monitoring burned areas in close proximity to known coltsfoot populations is advised. Because of coltsfoot's potential for seed dispersal via water, monitoring burned areas downstream of coltsfoot populations is also advised. Coltsfoot establishment may occur in the first several years after fire. For example, it established 1 year after wildfire in Ireland [24], 2 years after wildfire in Bulgaria [97], 2 years after wildfire in England [85], 1 to 4 years after wildfire in Russia [112], and 5 years after wildfire in Ontario [25].

Preventing invasive plants from establishing in weed-free burned areas is the most effective and least costly management method. This may be accomplished through early detection and eradication, careful monitoring and follow-up, and limiting dispersal of invasive plant propagules into burned areas. General recommendations for preventing postfire establishment and spread of invasive plants include:

  • Incorporate cost of weed prevention and management into fire rehabilitation plans
  • Acquire restoration funding
  • Include weed prevention education in fire training
  • Minimize soil disturbance and vegetation removal during fire suppression and rehabilitation activities
  • Minimize the use of retardants that may alter soil nutrient availability, such as those containing nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Avoid areas dominated by high priority invasive plants when locating firelines, monitoring camps, staging areas, and helibases
  • Clean equipment and vehicles prior to entering burned areas
  • Regulate or prevent human and livestock entry into burned areas until desirable site vegetation has recovered sufficiently to resist invasion by undesirable vegetation
  • Monitor burned areas and areas of significant disturbance or traffic from management activity
  • Detect weeds early and eradicate before vegetative spread and/or seed dispersal
  • Eradicate small patches and contain or control large infestations within or adjacent to the burned area
  • Reestablish vegetation on bare ground as soon as possible
  • Avoid use of fertilizers in postfire rehabilitation and restoration
  • Use only certified weed-free seed mixes when revegetation is necessary

For more detailed information on these topics, see the following publications: [3,16,37,102].

Use of prescribed fire as a control agent: Prescribed fire may not be an appropriate management tool where coltsfoot occurs, or prescribed fire may need to be used in combination with other management techniques. Though no studies have used prescribed fire specifically to control coltsfoot, its establishment following wildfire [24,25,85,97,112] suggests that prescribed fire may encourage coltsfoot establishment.
  • 25. Croskery, P. R.; Lee, P. F. 1981. Preliminary investigations of regeneration patterns following wildfire in the boreal forest of northwestern Ontario. Alces. 17: 229-256. [7888]
  • 85. Shaw, P. J. A. 1992. A preliminary study of successional changes in vegetation and soil development on unamended fly ash (PFA) in southern England. Journal of Applied Ecology. 29(3): 728-736. [76297]
  • 112. Zaidel'man, F. R.; Morozova, D. I.; Shvarov, A. P.; Batrak, M. V. 2006. Vegetation and pedogenesis on pyrogenic substrates of former peat soils. Eurasian Soil Science. 39(1): 12-20. [81730]
  • 16. Brooks, Matthew L. 2008. Effects of fire suppression and postfire management activities on plant invasions. In: Zouhar, Kristin; Smith, Jane Kapler; Sutherland, Steve; Brooks, Matthew L., eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Fire and nonnative invasive plants. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 6. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 269-280. [70909]
  • 3. Asher, Jerry; Dewey, Steven; Olivarez, Jim; Johnson, Curt. 1998. Minimizing weed spread following wildland fires. In: Christianson, Kathy, ed. Proceedings, Western Society of Weed Science; 1998 March 10-12; Waikoloa, HI. In: Western Society of Weed Science. 51: 49. Abstract. [40409]
  • 24. Colgan, Nathaniel. 1913. Further notes on the burnt ground flora of Killiney Hill. The Irish Naturalist. 22(5): 85-93. [80451]
  • 37. Goodwin, Kim; Sheley, Roger; Clark, Janet. 2002. Integrated noxious weed management after wildfires. EB-160. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University, Extension Service. 46 p. Available online: http://www.msuextension.org/store/Products/Integrated-Noxious-Weed-Management-After-Wildfires__EB0160.aspx [2011, January 20]. [45303]
  • 97. Topalova-Rzerzycha, Latinka. 2006. Fire and environment: ecological and cultural aspects. Through conflict to sustainable management--case study in the Doupki-Djindjiritza Biosphere Reserve, Bulgaria. Final Report. [Paris]:[Unesco]. 60 p. [+appendices]. Available online: http://www.unesco.org/mab/doc/mys/2005/bulgaria.pdf. [2011, January 20 ]. [81745]
  • 102. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 2001. Guide to noxious weed prevention practices. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 25 p. Available online: http://www.fs.fed.us/invasivespecies/documents/FS_WeedBMP_2001.pdf [2009, November 19]. [37889]

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Fuels and Fire Regimes

More info for the terms: fire regime, fuel, presettlement fire regime

Fuels: As of this writing (2011), no information was available regarding the fuel characteristics of coltsfoot.

FIRE REGIMES: It is not known what fire regime coltsfoot is best adapted to. In North America, coltsfoot occurs in a variety of plant communities with a range of presettlement fire regime characteristics. See the Fire Regime Table for further information on fire regimes of vegetation communities in which coltsfoot may occur.

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: cover, density, peat, peatland, reclamation, restoration, shrub, succession, wildfire

Coltsfoot generally achieves its highest densities in disturbed areas and does not persist past early succession. In its North American range, coltsfoot is frequently documented in early-successional plant communities or disturbed areas. Near Quebec City, Quebec, coltsfoot was the most abundant species (2.7% cover) in a boreal peatland 1 year after restoration efforts. Coltsfoot was present in ditches prior to restoration efforts, and rhizomes were left in the ground after a grader disturbed the plants. In postdisturbance year 2, coltsfoot cover had increased, and coltsfoot was the third most abundant (4.9% cover) species; field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and winter bentgrass (Agrostic hyemalis) were the most abundant [23]. Five years after an ice storm near Montreal, Quebec, mean coltsfoot cover was 0.2% in an old-growth sugar maple-American beech-red oak forest [35]. In Athens County, Ohio, coltsfoot occurred in 7- to 9-year old clearcuts [89]. Coltsfoot dominated some highly disturbed gravel riverbanks in boreal forest in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland [80].

Coltsfoot also occurs in early-successional plant communities or disturbed areas in its native range. In England, coltsfoot colonized the "less advanced stages" of fine-structured talus slopes and spoil banks in an abandoned chalk quarry [94]. In the British Isles, coltsfoot occurred on sand dunes where there was abundant bare ground and the soil was too unstable for moss colonization [42]. In Sweden, coltsfoot occurred in young (<10 years old) and old (up to 100 years old) abandoned gravel pits but was most common in young pits with high clay content [9]. In northwestern Czech Republic, coltsfoot often dominated 4- to 10-year-old abandoned basalt quarries where spoils with a high proportion of fine-structured subsoil were dumped [68]. In Hungary, coltsfoot dominated brown coal spoils within 3 years after abandonment [75].

In its native range, coltsfoot generally does not persist past early succession. In an abandoned wheat (Triticum spp.) field in Great Britain, coltsfoot was abundant 4 and 13 years after abandonment but scarce or occasional 21 and 31 years after abandonment. The author noted that coltsfoot looked like it would be "eliminated within the next few years" [15]. On nutrient-poor (low organic carbon and nitrogen) "protosoil" in central Germany, coltsfoot had the third highest cover (approximately 15%) during postdisturbance year 1. Coltsfoot cover subsequently declined, and at the end of the study in postdisturbance year 14, its cover was approximately 2% [82]. Coltsfoot colonized gravel areas in a moraine following a receding glacier in Obergurgl, Austria. It was found within 1,300 feet (400 m) of the glacial snout within 4 years of the start of colonization but was absent by the 19th year [70].

Coltsfoot is considered a "weak competitor" [64]. Coltsfoot cover apparently declines over time with increased vegetation density and cover. After a stand-replacing wildfire on drained peat soils in forested lowlands in the Pra River floodplain, Russia, coltsfoot occurred in mucky depressions where a thick peat layer (>39 inches (100 cm)) had burned to mineral soil and created a 4- to 6-inch (10-15 cm) deep ash horizon. Coltsfoot was present in postfire years 1 to 4 but absent in postfire year 5. Starting in postfire year 4, a continuous plant cover dominated by chee reedgrass (Calamagrostis epigeios) developed, and a humus horizon had formed in the upper soil layer [112], apparently reducing coltsfoot cover. In northwestern Czech Republic, coltsfoot cover decreased on reclaimed spoil heaps as woody vegetation increased during 35 years. Coltsfoot was not present the first 5 years but was abundant at 5 to 8 years when herbaceous perennials started to dominate. Coltsfoot cover declined as cover of other perennial herbs increased, and 15 years after abandonment, cover of other perennial herbs was dense. In subsequent years, coltsfoot and other perennial herbs declined as woody species cover increased [45]:

Percent coltsfoot cover on spoil heaps in a reclaimed coal mine in northwestern Czech Republic [45]
Years since reclamation Mean percent coltsfoot cover Mean woody species cover
1-5 years not present present with negligible cover
6-10 years 20.5 1.0
11-15 years 4.9 6.4
16-25 years 2.6 9.0
26-35 years 0.3 15.0
35-45 years 3.1 10.0

In an abandoned fly ash waste dump in the Lee Valley, southern England, coltsfoot was abundant during early succession. Coltsfoot cover in 7-year-old and 10-year old dumps was 50% and 30%, respectively. After about 10 years, coltsfoot began to be shaded out by willow (Salix spp.) and birch (Betula spp.). Coltsfoot cover in 12- to 14-year-old ash dumps was 1% to 20%. After about 25 years, dumps succeeded to willow-birch woodlands. Coltsfoot was absent from a 24-year-old dump [85]. In central Finland, coltsfoot cover was about 2% in young peat fields (1-2 years after abandonment), but coltsfoot was absent from old peat fields (5-8 years after abandonment). Six to 8 years after abandonment, the ground was totally covered by mosses (Polytrichum spp.), and willow and birch dominated the shrub layer [81]. Coltsfoot and quackgrass (Elymus repens) dominated a 1-year-old abandoned agricultural field in Poland. Coltsfoot cover declined each succeeding year until postdisturbance year 4, when the site was dominated by orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) and quackgrass, and only trace coltsfoot cover was present. The authors suggested that coltsfoot rhizomes were apparently not able to grow through the thick, dense layer of rhizomes and roots of the dominant grasses [65].

Coltsfoot prefers full sun and may be favored by high-light conditions following disturbance. Coltsfoot dominated some highly disturbed gravel riverbanks in boreal forest in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland. The author surmised that bare soil and high light intensities created by regular disturbance along the riverbank favored coltsfoot establishment [80]. Several North American studies indicate that coltsfoot is often found in edge habitats but absent in interior forest habitats [21,56,59].
  • 9. Borgegard, Sven-Olov. 1990. Vegetation development in abandoned gravel pits: effects of surrounding vegetation, substrate and regionality. Journal of Vegetation Science. 1(5): 675-682. [81690]
  • 15. Brenchley, Winifred E.; Adam, Helen. 1915. Recolonisation of cultivated land allowed to revert to natural conditions. Journal of Ecology. 3(4): 193-210. [73921]
  • 21. Christen, Douglas C.; Matlack, Glenn R. 2009. The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biological Invasions. 11(2): 453-465. [73802]
  • 23. Cobbaert, D.; Rochefort, L.; Price, J. S. 2004. Experimental restoration of a fen plant community after peat mining. Applied Vegetation Science. 7(2): 209-220. [80437]
  • 35. Gilbert, Benjamin; Lechowicz, Martin J. 2005. Invasibility and abiotic gradients: the positive correlation between native and exotic plant diversity. Ecology. 86(7): 1848-1855. [54771]
  • 42. Hepburn, Ian. 1945. The vegetation of the sand dunes of the Camel Estuary, North Cornwall. Journal of Ecology. 32(2): 180-192. [81755]
  • 45. Hodacova, Darina; Prach, Karel. 2003. Spoil heaps from brown coal mining: technical reclamation versus spontaneous revegetation. Restoration Ecology. 11(3): 385-391. [74757]
  • 56. MacQuarrie, Kate; Lacroix, Christian. 2003. The upland hardwood component of Prince Edward Island's remnant Acadian forest: determination of depth of edge and patterns of exotic invasion. Canadian Journal of Botany. 81(11): 1113-1128. [47131]
  • 59. Matlack, Glenn. 2007. Are roadsides a red carpet for invasive species? In: Cavender, Nicole, ed. Ohio invasive plants research conference, Proceedings: Continuing partnerships for invasive plant management; 2007 January 18; Ironton, OH. Columbus, OH: Ohio Biological Survey: 7-12. [76568]
  • 64. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1987. Production and germination of Tussilago farfara (L.) diaspores. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 56(3): 527-542. [80456]
  • 65. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1988. Recession of Tussilago farfara (L.) population from the agrocoenose as a result of cultivation abandonment. I. The effect of fallowing on population dynamics. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 57(3): 371-386. [80457]
  • 68. Novak, Jan; Prach, Karel. 2003. Vegetation succession in basalt quarries: pattern on a landscape scale. Applied Vegetation Science. 6(2): 111-116. [77346]
  • 70. Palmer, W. H.; Miller, A. K. 1961. Botanical evidence for the recession of a glacier. Oikos. 12(1): 75-86. [81729]
  • 75. Prach, Karel; Pysek, Petr. 1994. Clonal plants--what is their role in succession? Folia Geobotanica. 29(2): 307-320. [74705]
  • 80. Rose, Michael; Hermanutz, Luise. 2004. Are boreal ecosystems susceptible to alien plant invasion? Evidence from protected areas. Oecologia. 139(3): 467-477. [48554]
  • 81. Salonen, Veikko. 1990. Early plant succession in two abandoned cut-over peatland areas. Holarctic Ecology. 13(3): 217-223. [81725]
  • 82. Schmidt, Wolfgang; Brubach, Martina. 1993. Plant distribution patterns during early succession on an artificial protosoil. Journal of Vegetation Science. 4(2): 247-254. [76429]
  • 85. Shaw, P. J. A. 1992. A preliminary study of successional changes in vegetation and soil development on unamended fly ash (PFA) in southern England. Journal of Applied Ecology. 29(3): 728-736. [76297]
  • 89. Small, Christine J.; McCarthy, Brian C. 2001. Vascular flora of the Waterloo Wildlife Research Station, Athens County, Ohio. Castanea. 66(4): 363-382. [71703]
  • 94. Tansley, A. G.; Adamson, R. S. 1925. Studies of the vegetation of the English chalk. III. The chalk grasslands of Hampshire-Sussex border. Journal of Ecology. 13(2): 177-223. [81753]
  • 112. Zaidel'man, F. R.; Morozova, D. I.; Shvarov, A. P.; Batrak, M. V. 2006. Vegetation and pedogenesis on pyrogenic substrates of former peat soils. Eurasian Soil Science. 39(1): 12-20. [81730]

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Vegetative regeneration

More info for the terms: cover, density, formation, rhizome

Coltsfoot reproduces vegetatively via rhizomes. Rhizomes may grow out from the basal leaf-axils and produce aerial shoots as early as 2 to 4 months after germination.

Coltsfoot is capable of rapid vegetative growth. Rhizomes may grow >3 feet (1 m) long between initiation and the formation of aerial shoots [4,69]. Two years after sowing and transplant experiments in the Netherlands, some coltsfoot plants on bare, moist, aerated soils grew into patches 8.2 to 11.5 feet (2.5-3.5 m) long [4]. In southeastern Ohio, a 4-year-old coltsfoot patch along a road was 16 to 20 feet (5-6 m) long [21].

Vegetative reproduction in coltsfoot may be decreased by shading and overcrowding. In the Netherlands, mean density of rhizomes in unshaded sites (206-228 rhizomes/m²) was substantially higher than mean density of rhizomes in shaded sites (0-38 rhizomes/m²) [4]:

Coltsfoot vegetative reproduction 2 years after planting at 4 sites [4]
Site characteristics Mean number of rhizomes/m²
Unshaded, moderately moist, and aerated to 30-40 cm deep* 228
Shaded, moderately moist, and aerated to 50 cm deep** 38
Unshaded, very moist, and aerated to 0-5 cm deep* 206
Shaded, very moist, and aerated to 0-5 cm deep*** 0
*Bare, unvegetated soil.
**Young forests (3-4 m tall) without other groundlayer vegetation. Light intensity on the soil surface in July was 35-45% of full daylight.
***A stand of common reed (Phragmites communis). Light intensity on the soil surface in July was 60-70% of full daylight the first year and 5-10% the 2nd year.

In a common garden in Poland, coltsfoot individuals growing under the least crowded conditions had the most vegetative shoots [66]. In a common garden in Wales, coltsfoot allocated proportionally more biomass to vegetative reproduction than to seed production at low densities; at high densities, many plants failed to produce a rhizome [69]. In a greenhouse experiment in England, the greatest increases in density as a result of vegetative spread occurred when coltsfoot plants were at low density. At the highest densities, many individuals produced no rhizomes [63]. Along a river in Poland, complete removal of aboveground vegetation resulted in a decrease in grass density and an increase in coltsfoot density the year after the disturbance. Coltsfoot vegetative stem density doubled compared to the year prior to the disturbance. Vegetative stem density peaked in postdisturbance year 2, when coltsfoot cover was up to 70%. During postdisturbance year 3, coltsfoot vegetative stem density declined to predisturbance levels and grass cover and "sodding" increased. When 50% of the aboveground vegetation was removed along the river, coltsfoot vegetative stem density increased but was markedly lower than when 100% of aboveground vegetation was removed [67].

Vegetative reproduction in coltsfoot may decrease in harsh environments. In a seedling transplant experiment in England, coltsfoot plants in harsh environments (low soil fertility; soil pH: 4.6; mean daily temperature in summer: 51.1 °F (10.6 °C)) allocated proportionally less biomass to seed production and more to vegetative reproduction than did those in milder environments (high soil fertility; soil pH: 7.9; mean daily temperature in summer: 58.1 °F (14.5 °C)) [13]. In a common garden in Wales, total rhizome production was greater in fertile soils than in nutrient-poor soils [69].

  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 13. Bostock, Stephen J. 1980. Variation in reproductive allocation in Tussilago farfara. Oikos. 34(3): 359-363. [80445]
  • 21. Christen, Douglas C.; Matlack, Glenn R. 2009. The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biological Invasions. 11(2): 453-465. [73802]
  • 63. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1967. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L., and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. II. Growth and ecology. New Phytologist. 66(4): 785-823. [80443]
  • 66. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1993. Expansion of Tussilago farfara L. in disturbed environments. III. Successful colonization and the properties of individuals. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 62(1-2): 91-99. [80461]
  • 67. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1993. Expansion of Tussillago farfara L. in disturbed environments. I. Population renewal under conditions of plant cover destruction. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 62(1-2): 75-81. [80459]
  • 69. Ogden, John. 1974. The reproductive strategy of higher plants. II. The reproductive strategy of Tussilago Farfara L. Journal of Ecology. 62(1): 291-324. [80438]

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Seedling establishment and plant growth

More info for the terms: competition, density

Coltsfoot plants grow best in moist soils in full sun in areas with low vegetation abundance.

Although coltsfoot seeds can germinate equally well in light and in dark [4,10,64], coltsfoot seedling establishment and growth are optimum under full light, and shading delays growth. In field experiments in the Netherlands, coltsfoot seedling growth was best at 100% full light; seedling growth was delayed at 60% to 70% full light; and seedlings died at light intensities <20% full light [4]. In a greenhouse experiment in England, coltsfoot plants grown under 10% daylight had a mean dry weight of 7 mg, whereas plants grown at 70% daylight had a mean dry weight of 8,770 mg [63]. In southeastern Ohio, coltsfoot stem number tended to decrease with increased canopy closure, indicating increased coltsfoot recruitment under an open canopy [21].

Coltsfoot seedling establishment and growth appear to be optimum in moist but not saturated soils. In the Netherlands, coltsfoot seedlings were "hardly affected" by very moist and "badly aerated" soils. Conversely, many coltsfoot seedlings did not survive the first growing season in areas with low water availability in the upper soil surface in June [4].

Dense vegetation decreases coltsfoot seedling growth and establishment, probably due in part to competition with other plants for light and moisture. In field experiments in the Netherlands, coltsfoot did not grow well from germination to the reproductive stage when grown among dense agricultural crops, a result attributed in part to low light under these crops [4]. In a greenhouse in Poland, coltsfoot seedling survival decreased with increased sowing density; survival was 92% when 20 seeds were sown per tray and 19% when 500 seeds were sown per tray [66]. In field experiments in the Netherlands, coltsfoot seeds were planted at different densities in full sun in May. Sites with the lowest density showed the highest total vegetative production, and those with the highest density showed the highest mortality at the end of the first growing season. Most mortality occurred during drought at the end of June. Soil erosion and pathogens may have also caused some mortality [4]:

Survival of coltsfoot seedlings to reproductive stage from seeds planted at 4 densities in 2 experiments [4]
Mean number of seedlings/dm² shortly after emergence Mean number of plants/dm² in the reproductive stage before the end of the first growing season
28-36 0-1
11-18 3-4
8 4
2-3 1-2

Coltsfoot seedlings are apparently most vulnerable to mortality prior to development of rhizomes, when seedlings are not capable of vegetative reproduction [4]. Two and 3 years after complete removal of aboveground vegetation along a river in Poland, a large number of coltsfoot seedlings germinated in May. However, about 90% of seedlings had died by the end of the growing season [67].

  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 10. Bostock, S. J. 1978. Seed germination strategies of five perennial weeds. Oecologia. 36: 113-126. [37496]
  • 21. Christen, Douglas C.; Matlack, Glenn R. 2009. The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biological Invasions. 11(2): 453-465. [73802]
  • 63. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1967. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L., and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. II. Growth and ecology. New Phytologist. 66(4): 785-823. [80443]
  • 64. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1987. Production and germination of Tussilago farfara (L.) diaspores. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 56(3): 527-542. [80456]
  • 66. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1993. Expansion of Tussilago farfara L. in disturbed environments. III. Successful colonization and the properties of individuals. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 62(1-2): 91-99. [80461]
  • 67. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1993. Expansion of Tussillago farfara L. in disturbed environments. I. Population renewal under conditions of plant cover destruction. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 62(1-2): 75-81. [80459]

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Germination

More info for the terms: fresh, natural

Coltsfoot seeds do not show dormancy. Secondary dormancy does not occur in coltsfoot. Seeds usually germinate the season they are produced [10]. Under laboratory and natural conditions, seed viability decreases rapidly over time. Most seeds >5 months old do not germinate [4,10,64]. Under laboratory conditions in the Netherlands, mean percent germination of coltsfoot seeds decreased from 94% immediately after harvest to 3% 4 months later [4]:

Mean percent germination of coltsfoot seeds immediately after harvest and after storage under varied conditions [4]
Storage conditions Storage time
Immediately after harvest 1 month 2 months 4 months
Indoors, 18-23 °C 94 57 41 3
Outdoors, 40 cm below the soil surface 94 21 3 0
Outdoors, 50 cm below the water surface 94 37 0 0

Coltsfoot seeds collected in May from wild populations in Poland and sown on filter paper in May and June reached 100% germination within 24 hours. Seeds sown in July reached 92% germination within 3 days; those sown in September reached 4.7% germination in 6 days; none of those sown in October germinated [64]. All coltsfoot seeds collected in April and May from wild populations in England and planted immediately after harvesting germinated in the laboratory. All seeds stored for 8 weeks at 37 °F (3 °C) also germinated in the laboratory, suggesting no loss of viability during 8 weeks of storage. However, all seeds stored at 37 °F for 6 months, then stored for an additional 6 months either at 81 °F (27 °C) in the laboratory or buried in mesh bags in potting soil outside, failed to germinate [10].

Viability and germination of coltsfoot seeds in the laboratory are high [4,10,64] but may not reflect germination rates in wild populations [64]. In laboratory experiments, viability reported for coltsfoot seeds from wild populations ranged from about 52% [11] to 76% [10]. However, seed germination in the field may be much lower than that in the laboratory. Namura-Ochalska [64] reported that even in years of high seed production, "no more than a few seedlings emerged", with as few as 0.5% of seeds germinating.

Coltsfoot seeds germinate in a range of light, temperature, soil moisture, and soil pH conditions, but cold temperatures and dry or extremely acid soils inhibit germination. Coltsfoot seeds germinate equally well in light and in dark [4,10,64]. Fresh coltsfoot seeds germinate at constant temperatures ranging from 41 to 86 °F (5-30 °C) [10], but >50 to 77 °F (10-25 °C) is optimum [4,6,10]. Coltsfoot seeds germinate well on substrates with a range of water availability, although they germinate best on moist substrates [10,64]. In the laboratory in Poland, seedling emergence tests indicated that coltsfoot seeds tolerated excess water, including submergence, but were very susceptible to water shortage [64]. In a culture solution, coltsfoot seeds germinated at a pH ranging from 4.5 to 6.5; germination was "slow" at pH 4; and no seeds germinated at pH <3.5 [62].

Seedling emergence tests indicate that coltsfoot seeds germinate best when on the soil surface, and seeds buried deeper than 0.2 inch (0.5 cm) [4] to 0.8 inch (2 cm) [64] do not germinate. In the laboratory in Poland, 100% of seeds planted on the soil surface germinated within 2 days; 50% germinated within 9 days when planted 0.4 inch (1 cm) deep; and 12% germinated within 12 days when planted 0.8 inch (2 cm) deep. Seeds sown deeper did not germinate [64].

  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 6. Baskin, Carol C.; Baskin, Jerry M. 2001. Seeds: ecology, biogeography, and evolution of dormancy and germination. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 666 p. [60775]
  • 10. Bostock, S. J. 1978. Seed germination strategies of five perennial weeds. Oecologia. 36: 113-126. [37496]
  • 11. Bostock, S. J.; Benton, R. A. 1979. The reproductive strategies of five perennial Compositae. Journal of Ecology. 67(1): 91-107. [37263]
  • 62. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1966. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L. and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. I. General biology and germination. New Phytologist. 65(2): 192-210. [80442]
  • 64. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1987. Production and germination of Tussilago farfara (L.) diaspores. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 56(3): 527-542. [80456]

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Seed production

More info for the terms: density, succession

Coltsfoot is sexually mature in its second year (see Seasonal Development) [7]. A fact sheet states that each coltsfoot plant produces about 3,500 seeds [109]. In Manchester, England, coltsfoot plants grown in pots outside produced 4,600 seeds/plant on average [11]. According to a flora, a single flower head may produce 100 to 1,000 seeds, although typically no more than 300 [33]. In England, one wild population of coltsfoot produced an average of 157 seeds/flower head [13], and another produced 178 seeds/flower head [11]:

Reproductive characteristics of a wild coltsfoot population in Manchester, England [11]
Seeds/flower head 178.1
Loss of seeds to predation (%) 21.0
Flower heads/rootstock 7.7
Flower heads/rootstock of the largest plant 100
Seeds/rootstock, including loss of seeds to predation 1,080

Coltsfoot seed production may be variable among populations and years. In its native range in Poland, a coltsfoot population along a riverbank produced 23,308 seeds/m² one year and <500 seeds/m² the previous year. The author attributed the difference in part to weather. In the same study, coltsfoot seed production decreased 51-fold in an old field and 22-fold in a grassland over 4 years. The author attributed the decline to succession of sod-forming grasses [64]. In the Netherlands, coltsfoot planted on bare, unvegetated soil produced 226,715 seeds/m², whereas coltsfoot planted in a young forest produced 16,511 seeds/m² [4]:

Reproductive characteristics of coltsfoot planted in 2 habitats in the Netherlands [4]
Variable Unshaded site* Shaded site**
Flowering stems/m² 33 7
Flower heads/flowering stem 37 16
Seeds/flower head 211 162
Mean percent seed germination 88 91
Number of viable seeds/m² 226,715 16,511
*A bare, unvegetated site. Soils were moderately moist clay loam, aerated to a depth of 30-40 cm.
** A young forest (3-4 m tall), without groundlayer vegetation. Light intensity in July was 35-45% of full daylight. Soils were moderately moist clay loam, aerated to a depth of 50 cm.

In its native range in Denmark, coltsfoot did not produce seeds every year [1]. Coltsfoot seed production may be influenced by plant density. For more information on this topic, see Vegetative regeneration.

  • 1. Andersen, Ulla Vogt. 1993. Dispersal strategies of Danish seashore plants. Ecography. 16(4): 289-298. [81688]
  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 7. Bender, Martin H.; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 2000. Age of maturity and life span in herbaceous, polycarpic perennials. Botanical Review. 66(3): 311-349. [74434]
  • 11. Bostock, S. J.; Benton, R. A. 1979. The reproductive strategies of five perennial Compositae. Journal of Ecology. 67(1): 91-107. [37263]
  • 13. Bostock, Stephen J. 1980. Variation in reproductive allocation in Tussilago farfara. Oikos. 34(3): 359-363. [80445]
  • 64. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1987. Production and germination of Tussilago farfara (L.) diaspores. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 56(3): 527-542. [80456]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]
  • 109. Wright, Harvey. 1997. Coltsfoot. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. 5 p. Available online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/coltsfoot.htm [2011, January 18]. [81722]

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Pollination and breeding system

Pollination and breeding system: Coltsfoot may self-pollinate, but it is principally cross-pollinated [4,34,62] by insects [11,33,62]. Self-pollination "does not...appear to be very successful as may be seen from the numerous shriveled empty fruits...found in most heads if insects are excluded" [62]. In its native range, coltsfoot is pollinated by bees (Hymenoptera) [71,73], hoverflies (Syrphidae), flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera), and possibly ants (Formicidae) [73].
  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 11. Bostock, S. J.; Benton, R. A. 1979. The reproductive strategies of five perennial Compositae. Journal of Ecology. 67(1): 91-107. [37263]
  • 34. Fryxell, Paul A. 1957. Mode of reproduction of higher plants. Botanical Review. 23(3): 135-233. [67749]
  • 62. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1966. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L. and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. I. General biology and germination. New Phytologist. 65(2): 192-210. [80442]
  • 71. Percival, M. S. 1955. The presentation of pollen in certain angiosperms and its collection by Apis mellifera. New Phytologist. 54(3): 353-368. [81742]
  • 73. Pfeiffer, Tanja; Gunzel, Corinna; Frey, Wolfgang. 2008. Clonal reproduction, vegetative multiplication and habitat colonisation in Tussilago farfara (Asteraceae): a combined morpho-ecological and molecular study. Flora. 203(4): 281-291. [81734]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: breeding system, density

Coltsfoot is a rapidly growing, herbaceous perennial that reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes and by seed [4,11,63,69,109]. Fact sheets state that coltsfoot reproduces primarily by rhizomes [19,48]. However, the balance between vegetative reproduction and reproduction by seed in coltsfoot may be influenced by plant density, where low-density populations have greater vegetative reproduction and reduced seed production [69].

  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 11. Bostock, S. J.; Benton, R. A. 1979. The reproductive strategies of five perennial Compositae. Journal of Ecology. 67(1): 91-107. [37263]
  • 63. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1967. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L., and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. II. Growth and ecology. New Phytologist. 66(4): 785-823. [80443]
  • 69. Ogden, John. 1974. The reproductive strategy of higher plants. II. The reproductive strategy of Tussilago Farfara L. Journal of Ecology. 62(1): 291-324. [80438]
  • 19. Cardina, John; Herms, Cathy; Koch, Tim; Webster, Ted. 2003. Ohio perennial and biennial weed guide, [Online]. In: OSU weed managment--Weed identification resources. In: Agronomic Crops Network. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Producer). Available: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/listall.asp [2009, November 3]. [76487]
  • 48. Invasive Species Specialist Group. 2005. Ecology of Tussilago farfara, [Online]. In: Global Invasive Species Database. The World Conservation Union, Invasive Species Specialist Group (Producer). Available: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=426&fr=1&sts=sss&lang=EN [2011, January 11]. [81692]
  • 109. Wright, Harvey. 1997. Coltsfoot. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. 5 p. Available online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/coltsfoot.htm [2011, January 18]. [81722]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: geophyte, hemicryptophyte

Raunkiaer [78] life form:
Hemicryptophyte
Geophyte
  • 78. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]

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Life Form

More info for the term: forb

Forb

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Fire Regime Table

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Seed dispersal

Coltsfoot seeds are dispersed by wind [1,4] and secondarily by water [4]. According to a fact sheet, seeds are dispersed by wind as far as 8 miles (13 km) [19]. In the Netherlands, wind dispersed some coltsfoot seeds up to 4 miles (6 km), although most seeds apparently landed within 300 feet (100 m) of their source population [4]. Seed dispersal is likely greatest in open habitats [10,86].
  • 1. Andersen, Ulla Vogt. 1993. Dispersal strategies of Danish seashore plants. Ecography. 16(4): 289-298. [81688]
  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 10. Bostock, S. J. 1978. Seed germination strategies of five perennial weeds. Oecologia. 36: 113-126. [37496]
  • 86. Sheldon, J. C.; Burrows, F. M. 1973. The dispersal effectiveness of the achene-pappus units of selected Compositae in steady winds with convection. New Phytologist. 72: 665-675. [24023]
  • 19. Cardina, John; Herms, Cathy; Koch, Tim; Webster, Ted. 2003. Ohio perennial and biennial weed guide, [Online]. In: OSU weed managment--Weed identification resources. In: Agronomic Crops Network. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Producer). Available: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/listall.asp [2009, November 3]. [76487]

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Seed banking

Coltsfoot seeds show no dormancy, and most seeds germinate shortly after dispersal. Seeds >5 months old typically do not germinate (see Germination). This suggests that coltsfoot has a transient seed bank. A flora stated that coltsfoot seed bank longevity was <3 months [33]. According to a review, studies in northwestern Europe reported coltsfoot seed densities in the seed bank ranging from 53 to 60 seeds/m² [96]. In "microcatchments" in the badlands area of southeastern Spain near Vallcebre, where coltsfoot plants were abundant in the standing vegetation, 77.9 coltsfoot seeds/m² were found in samples taken from the upper 4 inches (10 cm) of soil in October; no germination tests were conducted and seed viability was not determined [38].
  • 38. Guardia, R.; Gallart, F.; Ninot, J. M. 2000. Soil seed bank and seedling dynamics in badlands of the Upper Llobregat basin (Pyrenees). Catena. 40(2): 189-202. [81744]
  • 96. Thompson, Ken; Bakker, Jan P.; Bekker, Renee M. 1997. The soil seed banks of north west Europe: methodology, density and longevity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 276 p. [65467]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: adventitious, root crown

Coltsfoot seeds germinate in late spring and early summer shortly after they are shed (see Germination). Shortly after germination, a tap root develops. During the first summer, adventitious roots develop on the lowest nodes of the stem, followed by rhizomes that are initiated in the same region (see Underground structures). By fall, several leaves are typically present, rhizomes are well developed, and flower buds have usually formed. In favorable environments, vegetative reproduction may occur before winter, with the tips of some rhizomes growing upwards to produce new plants. During winter, leaves die so all that is visible at the soil surface is a cluster of flower buds on the root crown. Flower buds continue to develop during winter, and early the following spring new vegetative shoots develop, flowering stems elongate, and flowers open. After flowers mature, seeds are dispersed, and vegetative shoots grow. Leaves grow from vegetative shoots in early summer after flowering stems die. During summer, rhizomes grow and develop aerial shoots, and the cycle recommences the following spring [4,62,69,109].

In North America, coltsfoot generally flowers from March through June:

General flowering dates reported for coltsfoot in parts of its North American range
Location Dates
New England April-June [36]
New England 19 April-11 June [84]
New England and New York April-June [57]
Ohio March (fact sheet by [19])
Maryland March-May [30]
southern Ontario April-early May (fact sheet by [109])
Nova Scotia late April-early May [79]

In the European range of coltsfoot, temperature appears to affect timing of flowering, with plants at higher elevation and more northerly latitudes flowering later in the season. For example, flowering generally occurs from June to July in Fennoscandia, but from March to April in southern Great Britain [62]. For more information on this topic, see Climate.

  • 36. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 57. Magee, Dennis W.; Ahles, Harry E. 2007. Flora of the Northeast: A manual of the vascular flora of New England and adjacent New York. 2nd ed. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1214 p. [74293]
  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 30. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of edible weeds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 246 p. [52780]
  • 62. Myerscough, P. J.; Whitehead, F. H. 1966. Comparative biology of Tussilago farfara L., Chamaenerion angustifolium (L.) Scop., Epilobium montanum L. and Epilobium adenocaulon Hausskn. I. General biology and germination. New Phytologist. 65(2): 192-210. [80442]
  • 69. Ogden, John. 1974. The reproductive strategy of higher plants. II. The reproductive strategy of Tussilago Farfara L. Journal of Ecology. 62(1): 291-324. [80438]
  • 79. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 84. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2nd ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 19. Cardina, John; Herms, Cathy; Koch, Tim; Webster, Ted. 2003. Ohio perennial and biennial weed guide, [Online]. In: OSU weed managment--Weed identification resources. In: Agronomic Crops Network. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Producer). Available: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/listall.asp [2009, November 3]. [76487]
  • 109. Wright, Harvey. 1997. Coltsfoot. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. 5 p. Available online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/coltsfoot.htm [2011, January 18]. [81722]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tussilago farfara

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 12
Specimens with Barcodes: 16
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Information on state-level noxious weed status of plants in the United States is available at Plants Database.

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Status

Not threatened (3).
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Threats

This plant is not threatened.
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Management

Impacts and Control

More info for the terms: cover, density, fire management, invasive species, natural, prescribed fire, rhizome

Impacts: Coltsfoot often forms dense stands, particularly along roadsides (e.g., [21,22,59]), and occasionally dominates disturbed native plant communities (e.g., [2,80]). Coltsfoot's ability to dominate disturbed areas is attributed to its high seed production, fast vegetative spread, and ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions [66,77]. According to management guidelines from 2005, however, evidence was lacking that coltsfoot out-competes other vegetation in relatively undisturbed native habitats [58]. In 2004, a compilation of invasive species lists and expert opinion from throughout the northeastern and north-central United States indicated that coltsfoot was “not currently known to be especially invasive” [101]. Although coltsfoot was introduced in Canada in the 1920s, Wright [109] stated that by 1997 it had not spread extensively. Most fact sheets, government publications, and weed management guides indicated that coltsfoot had no more than a moderate impact on native vegetation [20,26,95,101]. In the Upper Midwest, coltsfoot appears most invasive in grasslands and wetlands [26]. In Massachusetts, coltsfoot appears most invasive in lime seeps and disturbed sites [58].

Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Control: Coltsfoot control is complicated by its abundant seed production and ability to sprout from rhizomes following disturbance [77,109]. Because coltsfoot often becomes established after disturbance, control efforts should focus on management of existing infestations and minimization of disturbance to forests, wetlands, and other natural communities. Control effectiveness may depend on a program that integrates multiple management procedures such as herbicides, seeding of desired species, and other techniques that decrease coltsfoot spread and favor desired species.

In all cases where invasive species are targeted for control, no matter what method is employed, the potential for other invasive species to fill their void must be considered [17]. Control of biotic invasions is most effective when it employs a long-term, ecosystem-wide strategy rather than a tactical approach focused on battling individual invaders [55].

Prevention: Coltsfoot's preference for disturbed sites (see Successional Status) suggests that its establishment may be prevented by minimizing soil disturbance. It is commonly argued that the most cost-efficient and effective method of managing invasive species is to prevent their establishment and spread by maintaining "healthy" natural communities [55,87] (e.g., avoid road building in wildlands [100]) and by monitoring several times each year [49]. Managing to maintain the integrity of the native plant community and mitigate the factors enhancing ecosystem invasibility is likely to be more effective than managing solely to control the invader [44].

Weed prevention and control can be incorporated into many types of management plans, including those for logging and site preparation, grazing allotments, recreation management, research projects, road building and maintenance, and fire management [102]. See the Guide to noxious weed prevention practices [102] for specific guidelines in preventing the spread of weed seeds and propagules under different management conditions.

Fire: For information on the use of prescribed fire to control this species, see Fire Management Considerations.

Cultural control: Because increased vegetation density and cover may result in decreased coltsfoot cover (see Successional Status), it may be possible to control coltsfoot by establishing native vegetation. In a greenhouse in Poland, coltsfoot seedling survival decreased with increased seedling density, and increased seedling density also delayed coltsfoot seedling development [66]. In field experiments in the Netherlands, coltsfoot did not grow well from germination to the reproductive stage when grown among dense agricultural crops, due in part to low light intensities under these crops [4]. Other researchers reported that because coltsfoot was low-growing, vegetative reproduction was reduced by the abundance of other low-growing herbs such as clover (Fabaceae) and ryegrass (Lolium spp.) (review by [4]). In combination, these studies suggest that establishing native vegetation may slow coltsfoot establishment and spread. For more information on this topic, see Seedling establishment and plant growth.

Physical or mechanical control: Coltsfoot has deep, brittle rhizomes, making it difficult to control by hand-pulling. Small coltsfoot infestations may be eradicated by carefully digging out plants [26,95]. It is critical that all underground portions of the plant are removed because even small fragments of rhizomes left in the soil are likely to give rise to new plants [66]. According to a fact sheet, coltsfoot roots can remain dormant underground for long periods [95] and presumably retain the potential to generate new plants. Coltsfoot seedlings hand-pulled after germination but prior to rhizome development are usually killed and not capable of vegetative reproduction (see Vegetative regeneration) [4]. Hand-pulling before the plant has set seed may reduce spread [95].

Biological control: No biological controls of coltsfoot are known as of this writing (2011). Biological control of invasive species has a long history that indicates many factors must be considered before using biological controls. Refer to these sources: [104,108] and the Weed control methods handbook [98] for background information and important considerations for developing and implementing biological control programs.

Chemical control: Herbicides may control coltsfoot. Fact sheets provide information on specific chemicals that may be used to control coltsfoot: [95,109]. However, little detailed information regarding the effectiveness of herbicides on coltsfoot was available as of this writing (2011). Herbicides are effective in gaining initial control of a new invasion or a severe infestation, but they are rarely a complete or long-term solution to weed management [18]. See the Weed control methods handbook [98] for considerations on the use of herbicides in natural areas and detailed information on specific chemicals.

Integrated management: Integrated management includes considerations of not only killing the target plant but also of establishing desirable species and maintaining weed-free systems over the long term. Integrated management techniques may be more effective than individual methods at controlling coltsfoot, but as of this writing (2011) no information was available.
  • 2. Angel, Patrick Nicholas. 2008. Forest establishment and water quality characteristics as influenced by spoil type on a loose-graded surface mine in eastern Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 374 p. Dissertation. [81689]
  • 4. Bakker, D. 1960. A comparative life-history study of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. and Tussilago farfara L., the most troublesome weeds in the newly reclaimed polders of the former Zuiderzee. In: Harper, J. L., ed. The biology of weeds. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publishers: 205-222. [37691]
  • 21. Christen, Douglas C.; Matlack, Glenn R. 2009. The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biological Invasions. 11(2): 453-465. [73802]
  • 22. Clarkson, Roy B. 1966. The vascular flora of the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. Castanea. 31(1): 1-119. [73746]
  • 59. Matlack, Glenn. 2007. Are roadsides a red carpet for invasive species? In: Cavender, Nicole, ed. Ohio invasive plants research conference, Proceedings: Continuing partnerships for invasive plant management; 2007 January 18; Ironton, OH. Columbus, OH: Ohio Biological Survey: 7-12. [76568]
  • 66. Namura-Ochalska, Anna. 1993. Expansion of Tussilago farfara L. in disturbed environments. III. Successful colonization and the properties of individuals. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 62(1-2): 91-99. [80461]
  • 80. Rose, Michael; Hermanutz, Luise. 2004. Are boreal ecosystems susceptible to alien plant invasion? Evidence from protected areas. Oecologia. 139(3): 467-477. [48554]
  • 18. Bussan, Alvin J.; Dyer, William E. 1999. Herbicides and rangeland. In: Sheley, Roger L.; Petroff, Janet K., eds. Biology and management of noxious rangeland weeds. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 116-132. [35716]
  • 44. Hobbs, Richard J.; Humphries, Stella E. 1995. An integrated approach to the ecology and management of plant invasions. Conservation Biology. 9(4): 761-770. [44463]
  • 17. Brooks, Matthew L.; Pyke, David A. 2001. Invasive plants and fire in the deserts of North America. In: Galley, Krista E. M.; Wilson, Tyrone P., eds. Proceedings of the invasive species workshop: The role of fire in the control and spread of invasive species; Fire conference 2000: 1st national congress on fire ecology, prevention, and management; 2000 November 27 - December 1; San Diego, CA. Misc. Publ. No. 11. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 1-14. [40491]
  • 20. Catling, Paul M.; Mitrow, Gisele. 2005. A prioritized list of the invasive alien plants of natural habitats in Canada. Canadian Botanical Association Bulletin. 38(4): 55-57. [71460]
  • 26. Czarapata, Elizabeth J. 2005. Invasive plants of the Upper Midwest: An illustrated guide to their identification and control. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 215 p. [71442]
  • 49. Johnson, Douglas E. 1999. Surveying, mapping, and monitoring noxious weeds on rangelands. In: Sheley, Roger L.; Petroff, Janet K., eds. Biology and management of noxious rangeland weeds. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 19-36. [35707]
  • 55. Mack, Richard N.; Simberloff, Daniel; Lonsdale, W. Mark; Evans, Harry; Clout, Michael; Bazzaz, Fakhri A. 2000. Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecological Applications. 10(3): 689-710. [48324]
  • 77. Prach, Karel; Wade, Paul M. 1992. Population characteristics of expansive perennial herbs. Preslia. 64(1): 45-51. [73869]
  • 87. Sheley, Roger; Manoukian, Mark; Marks, Gerald. 1999. Preventing noxious weed invasion. In: Sheley, Roger L.; Petroff, Janet K., eds. Biology and management of noxious rangeland weeds. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 69-72. [35711]
  • 98. Tu, Mandy; Hurd, Callie; Randall, John M., eds. 2001. Weed control methods handbook: tools and techniques for use in natural areas. Davis, CA: The Nature Conservancy. 194 p. [37787]
  • 100. Tyser, Robin W.; Worley, Christopher A. 1992. Alien flora in grasslands adjacent to road and trail corridors in Glacier National Park, Montana (U.S.A.). Conservation Biology. 6(2): 253-262. [19435]
  • 108. Wilson, Linda M.; McCaffrey, Joseph P. 1999. Biological control of noxious rangeland weeds. In: Sheley, Roger L.; Petroff, Janet K., eds. Biology and management of noxious rangeland weeds. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 97-115. [35715]
  • 58. Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG). 2005. Strategic recommendations for managing invasive plants in Massachusetts. Final report: February 28, 2005, [Online]. Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (Producer). Available: http://www.massnrc.org/mipag/docs/STRATEGIC_PLAN_FINAL_042005.pdf [2009, July 2]. [71599]
  • 95. Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. 2009. Invasive plants of Tennessee, [Online]. In: TN-EPPC invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee--December 2009. 2nd ed. Fairview, TN: Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council (Producer). Available: http://www.tneppc.org/invasive_plants [2010, June 23]. [80199]
  • 101. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region. 2004. Eastern Region invasive plants ranked by degree of invasiveness as based on information from states, [Online]. In: Noxious weeds and non-native invasive plants. Section 3: Invasive plants. Milwaukee, WI: Eastern Region (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/wildlife/range/weed/Sec3B.htm [2010, November 10]. [46748]
  • 102. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 2001. Guide to noxious weed prevention practices. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 25 p. Available online: http://www.fs.fed.us/invasivespecies/documents/FS_WeedBMP_2001.pdf [2009, November 19]. [37889]
  • 104. Van Driesche, Roy; Lyon, Suzanne; Blossey, Bernd; Hoddle, Mark; Reardon, Richard, tech. coords. 2002. Biological control of invasive plants in the eastern United States. Publication FHTET-2002-04. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team. 413 p. Available online: http://www.invasive.org/eastern/biocontrol/index.html [2009, November 19]. [54194]
  • 109. Wright, Harvey. 1997. Coltsfoot. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. 5 p. Available online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/coltsfoot.htm [2011, January 18]. [81722]

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Conservation

Conservation action is not required for this species at present.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: cover

As of this writing (2011), little information was available in the published literature regarding coltsfoot's use by wildlife or livestock. In Manchester, England, coltsfoot flower heads were harvested by birds [11].

Palatability and nutritional value: As of this writing (2011), little information was available in the published literature regarding coltsfoot's palatability or nutritional value to wildlife or livestock. In coltsfoot's native range, its flowers are visited by a variety of invertebrates, including bees (Hymenoptera), hoverflies (Syrphidae), flies (Diptera), and beetles (Coleoptera) [71,73]. On the British Isles, leaf-miner flies (Agromyzidae), aphids (Aphididae), gelechiid moths (Gelechiidae), plume moths (Pterophoridae) and tortix moths (Tortricidae) feed on the roots, stems, leaves, and flowers of coltsfoot [33].

Cover value: No information is available on this topic.

  • 11. Bostock, S. J.; Benton, R. A. 1979. The reproductive strategies of five perennial Compositae. Journal of Ecology. 67(1): 91-107. [37263]
  • 71. Percival, M. S. 1955. The presentation of pollen in certain angiosperms and its collection by Apis mellifera. New Phytologist. 54(3): 353-368. [81742]
  • 73. Pfeiffer, Tanja; Gunzel, Corinna; Frey, Wolfgang. 2008. Clonal reproduction, vegetative multiplication and habitat colonisation in Tussilago farfara (Asteraceae): a combined morpho-ecological and molecular study. Flora. 203(4): 281-291. [81734]
  • 33. Fitter, A. H.; Peat H. J. 2010. Ecological flora of the British Isles. In: The Ecological Flora Database. In: Journal of Ecology. 82: 415-425. Available online: http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/. [2011, January 13]. [81351]

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Other uses and values

Coltsfoot may provide erosion control [61]. Coltsfoot traditionally served a number of medical uses. Leaves and roots were dried, ground, or boiled and used to make teas, candies, and tobaccos. Preparations from leaves have been used to treat coughs and bronchial congestion. However, coltsfoot leaves contain a liver toxin and they are no longer used for this purpose ([30,57], fact sheets by [19,48]). Chemicals extracted from coltsfoot roots may be effective as a deterrent to larval eastern spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) [8].
  • 57. Magee, Dennis W.; Ahles, Harry E. 2007. Flora of the Northeast: A manual of the vascular flora of New England and adjacent New York. 2nd ed. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1214 p. [74293]
  • 30. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of edible weeds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 246 p. [52780]
  • 61. Melhuish, J. H., Jr.; Beckjord, P. R.; Vogel, W. G. 1987. Flowering requirements of Tussilago farfara. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science. 48(1-2): 1-4. [80454]
  • 8. Bentley, M. D.; Leonard, D. E.; Stoddard, W. F.; Zalkow, L. H. 1984. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids as larval feeding deterrents for spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 77(4): 393-397. [80455]
  • 19. Cardina, John; Herms, Cathy; Koch, Tim; Webster, Ted. 2003. Ohio perennial and biennial weed guide, [Online]. In: OSU weed managment--Weed identification resources. In: Agronomic Crops Network. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Producer). Available: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/listall.asp [2009, November 3]. [76487]
  • 48. Invasive Species Specialist Group. 2005. Ecology of Tussilago farfara, [Online]. In: Global Invasive Species Database. The World Conservation Union, Invasive Species Specialist Group (Producer). Available: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=426&fr=1&sts=sss&lang=EN [2011, January 11]. [81692]

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Wikipedia

Tussilago

Tussilago farfara, commonly known as coltsfoot, is a plant in the family Asteraceae that has traditionally had medicinal uses. However, the discovery of toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the plant has resulted in liver health concerns. T. farfara is the only species in the genus Tussilago.[1] The name "tussilago" is derived from the Latin tussis, meaning cough, and ago, meaning to cast or to act on.[2][3]

Description[edit]

Foliage

Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically 10–30 cm in height.

Distribution[edit]

Coltsfoot is native to several locations in Europe and Asia. It is also a common plant in North America and South America where it has been introduced, most likely by settlers as a medicinal item. The plant is often found in waste and disturbed places and along roadsides and paths. In some areas it is considered an invasive species.

In North America it occurs in the northeastern United States, the northwestern US state of Washington, southeastern Canada, the southwestern Canadian province of British Columbia, and the French overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.[4] The USDA Plants database indicates its presence in the US states of CT, DC, DE, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, and WV, the Canadian provinces of BC, NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, and QC.[4]

Synonym[edit]

Other common names include tash plant, ass's foot, bull's foot, butterbur, coughwort (Old English),[5] farfara, foal's foot, foalswort, horse foot and winter heliotrope. Sometimes it is confused with Petasites frigidus, or western coltsfoot.

It has been called bechion[6] bechichie or bechie, from the Ancient Greek word for "cough".[7] Also ungula caballina ("horse hoof"), pes pulli ("foal's foot"),[6] and chamæleuce.[8]

Traditional uses[edit]

Coltsfoot has been used in herbal medicine[6] and has been consumed as a food product with some confectionery products, such as Coltsfoot Rock. Tussilago farfara leaves have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or syrup) or externally (directly applied) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, locomotor system, viral infections, flu, colds, fever, rheumatism and gout.[9]

Food source[edit]

Coltsfoot is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the gothic and small angle shades. The coltsfoot is also worked by the honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera).

Toxicity[edit]

Tussilago farfara contains tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.[10] Senecionine and senkirkine, present in coltsfoot, have the highest mutagenetic activity of any pyrrolozidine alkaloid, tested using Drosophila melanogaster to produce a comparative genotoxicity test.[11][12] There are documented cases of coltsfoot tea causing severe liver problems in an infant, and in another case, an infant developed liver disease and died because the mother drank tea containing coltsfoot during her pregnancy.[13][14] In response the German government banned the sale of coltsfoot. Clonal plants of colstfoot free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids were then developed in Austria and Germany.[15] This has resulted in the development of the registered variety Tussilago farfara Wein which has no detectable levels of these alkaloids.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Theodore M. Barkley (2006). "Tussilago Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 865. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 372. 1754". Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, Part 7: Asteraceae, Part 2. Flora of North America 20. Oxford University Press. p. 635. ISBN 9780195305647. 
  2. ^ Capasso, Francesco (2011). "Capitolo M12: Droghe obsolete e/o poco studiate". Farmacognosia: Botanica, chimica e farmacologia delle piante medicinali (in Italian) (Seconda edizione ed.) (Springer Milan). p. 428. doi:10.1007/978-88-470-1652-1_30. ISBN 978-88-470-1652-1. "Tussilago, dal latino tussis = tosse e ago = scaccio." 
  3. ^ Booth, David (1835). An analytical dictionary of the English language. James Cochrane and Co. p. 312. "Tussilago, from the Latin tussis, a cough, and ago, to act upon, to cure; from its reputed virtues." 
  4. ^ a b "Name Search Results – Plants Profile for Tussilago farfara (Coltsfoot)". Plants Database. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Coulombe Jr., Roger A. (2003). "Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Foods". In Taylor, Steve L. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 45. Academic Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-12-016445-0. 
  6. ^ a b c First Foot: The Medieval Garden Enclosed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  7. ^ Joannes de Vigo. Works of Chirurgery, 1543.
  8. ^ Thomas Cooper, Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britannicae (1584).
  9. ^ Sylvia Vogl, Paolo Picker, Judit Mihaly-Bison, Nanang Fakhrudin, Atanas G. Atanasov, Elke H. Heiss, Christoph Wawrosch, Gottfried Reznicek, Verena M. Dirsch, Johannes Saukel & Brigitte Koppa (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine – an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149 (3): 750–771. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053. 
  10. ^ Fu, P.P., Yang, Y.C., Xia, Q., Chou, M.C., Cui, Y.Y., Lin G., "Pyrrolizidine alkaloids-tumorigenic components in Chinese herbal medicines and dietary supplements", Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, Vol. 10, No. 4, 2002, pp. 198-211 [1]
  11. ^ Röder, E., "Medicinal plants in Europe containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids", Pharmazie, 1995, pp83-98. Reprinted on Henriette's Herbal website.[2]
  12. ^ Frei, H.J., Luethy, J., Brauchli, L., Zweifel, U., Wuergler, F.E., & Schlatter, C., Chem. Biol. Interact., 83: 1, 1992
  13. ^ Sperl, W., Stuppner, H., Gassner, I.; "Reversible hepatic veno-occlusive disease in an infant after consumption of pyrrolizidine-containing herbal tea." Eur J Pediatr. 1995;154:112–6.
  14. ^ Roulet, M., Laurini, R., Rivier, L., Calame, A.; "Hepatic veno-occlusive disease in newborn infant of a woman drinking herbal tea." J Pediatrics. 1988;112:433–6.
  15. ^ Wawrosch, Ch.; Kopp, B.; Wiederfield, H.; "Permanent monitoring of pyrrolizidine alkaloid content in micropropagated Tussilago farfara L. : A tool to fulfill statutory demands for the quality of coltsfoot in Austria and Germany", Acta horticulturae, 2000, no. 530, pp469-472 [3]
  16. ^ Wawrosh C.,"In Vitro Cultivation of Medicinal Plants" cited in Yaniv Z. and Bachrach U., Eds "Handbook of Medicinal Plants", The Hawthorne Medical Press NY Lond. 2005

Further reading[edit]

  • R. Schubert & G. Wagner: Botanisches Wörterbuch Ulmer, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-8252-1476-1 (German)
  • H. Haeupler & Th. Muer: Bildatlas der Farn- und Blütenpflanzen Deutschlands Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart, 2000. ISBN 3-8001-3364-4. (German)
  • Gerhard Madaus: Lehrbuch der biologischen Heilmittel Bd 1. Heilpflanzen. G. Thieme, Leipzig 1938, Olms, Hildesheim 1979. ISBN 3-487-05890-1 (German)
  • Guide des plantes sauvages comestibles et toxiques, les guides du naturaliste, François Couplan et Eva Stinner ISBN 2-603-00952-4 (French)
  • Кирпичников М. Э. Семейство сложноцветные, или астровые (Asteraceae, или Compositae) // Жизнь растений. В 6-ти т. / Под ред. А. Л. Тахтаджяна. — М.: Просвещение, 1981. — Т. 5. Ч. 2. Цветковые растения. — С. 462—476. — 300000 экз. (Russian)
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Notes

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Flowering heads of Tussilago farfara close at night (laminae of ray corollas arch and roll inward). The species is becoming an invasive weed in some areas.
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Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The scientific name of coltsfoot is Tussilago farfara L. (Asteraceae) [36,43,57,84].
  • 36. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 43. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 57. Magee, Dennis W.; Ahles, Harry E. 2007. Flora of the Northeast: A manual of the vascular flora of New England and adjacent New York. 2nd ed. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1214 p. [74293]
  • 84. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2nd ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]

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Common Names

coltsfoot

colt's foot

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