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Western Coltsfoot

Petasites palmatus


General - a perennial from slender, creeping rhizomes; flowering stems stout (appear before leaves); growing up to 50 cm tall. Leaves - round to heart- or kidney-shaped at stem base. 5 - 20 cm wide, deeply divided (more than halfway to centre), into 5 to 7 toothed lobes, green, essentially hairless above, thinly white-woolly below; stem leaves reduced to alternate bracts. Flowers - in clusters of several to many white, 8 - 12 mm wide heads on glandular, often white-woolly stalks, mostly female or mostly male; ray flowers creamy white; disc flowers whitish to pinkish; involucres 7 - 16 mm high, bracts lance-shaped, hairy at base.; appearing early-summer.


Moist woods and openings, and wetlands; widespread across boreal forest


Some native groups chewed the roots or made them into a tea to treat chest ailments (tuberculosis and asthma), rheumatism, sore throats, and stomach ulcers. Coltsfoot leaves and flowers were steeped in hot water to make a tea for people suffering from diarrhea. Strong doses have been reported to cause abortion. Coltsfoot has been widely used as a medicine over the years. It was once the official sign of the French apothecaries. Also known as "Sweet Butterbur".

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Seattle, Washington, USA

Spotted on Apr 7, 2012
Submitted on Apr 16, 2012

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