Signs of spring: Colt’s-foot at Little Assynt
On 15th March 2015, I was pleased to come across a small patch of colt’s-foot Tussilago farfara, just coming into flower at Little Assynt. It was at the foot of a bank at the edge of the car-park for the All Abilities Path (NC172261). The yellow, daisy-like flowers, about an inch in diameter, are amongst the earliest to appear in the spring, carried on long stalks bearing scaly bracts. The large leaves, with cottony backs, appear later. Disturbed ground like this is the usual habitat of colt’s-foot further south. It has been found in a few such places locally, but never before in this vicinity. In Assynt, it is typically a plant of shingly river banks and the edges of burns, especially in limestone areas. This must have been its preferred habitat before man started churning up the landscape. Its generic name, Tussilago, derives from tussis, Latin for a cough, and various parts have long been used as cough medicine.