SUNDAY: Arrow-Leaved Coltsfoot

I had to post this photo for Maggie, who’s mentioned coltsfoot but it seems to be a different plant than what I’m thinking of.

This might be the explanation: it flowers quite a while before developing these large leaves with the “flannel” on one side.

You were remarking upon the blooms in early spring, Maggie.

According to The Standing People, by Kahlee Keane, it’s common in this province for people not to know what the plant is when it’s in flower, but to recognize it as coltsfoot once they see the leaves weeks later.

“One day during my first prairie spring, I was drawn to a strong sweet aroma emanating from among the dead grasses in a ditch close to our house. Upon further inspection, the sweet scent was coming from a relatively tall (about 12 inches) thick scaly flowering stalk with many blossoms in a dense head. Having never encountered this plant, I asked a few locals about it but they didn’t know what it was called.

Over the next weeks, more and more appeared in the same area and then weeks later a funny thing happened when arrow-shaped leaves appeared around the now dying flowers. Now everyone knew the large leafy plant was called coltsfoot.”

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“The medicinal qualities are contained in the leaves…A tea made from the leaf, gathered from an unpolluted area, sipped throughout the day, will calm a repetitive cough by soothing the mucous membranes. The leaf is one ingredient of a herbal tobacco substitute that helps you kick the ‘habit’ while at the same time cleaning and tonifying your lungs. Some of the other ingredients in this mixture are mullein, mint, yarrow, bearberry and labrador tea. Mix together, with mullein comprising about half the total amount, each of the others about ten percent. You can roll cigarettes, make a tea from the mix, or use as a fragrant smudge.”

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