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The Basics: Most information gleaned for Coltsfoot reflects studies on its medicinal properties.
People have been using coltsfoot for centuries as a cough medicine. Coltsfoot is normally one
of the first plants to emerge after winter making it a borderline winter wild edible. Interestingly,
the flowers bloom long before the leaves appear.
WARNING: Coltsfoot root contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. As it spreads from root to the flowers
(because the flowers bloom before the leaves appear), the PAs present may be higher than in
the leaves that follow.
Edible Parts: Given the level of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the flowers, I’ve left them out
deliberately though they are technically “edible”. The leaves are also edible but with keeping
safety in mind, the only use I’m going to list here is “salt substitute” from coltsfoot leaves.
Harvesting Tips: Look for black spots on the surface of the leaf (the black spots are leaf oil
deposits coming to the surface). Harvest the leaves when they’re fully grown and in the latter
part of the spring season. If you see black spots on the leaf, they’re ready to be picked.
How to Make Coltsfoot Salt Substitute:
Gather coltsfoot leaves, around 1 cup.
Roll them into a ball and let them dry.
Put them in a pan, on a rock or some other
heat resistant surface then burn them.
You want to burn them until they’re ash.
When cool enough to touch, put them
into a bowl to grind (use a spoon).
You want the ashes and blackened material.
Store in a container and use it in place of salt.