poetry and prose about place

Coltsfoot – first flower of spring

with 5 comments

Although other flowers quickly follow, the first flower to bloom along our New Brunswick roads is Coltsfoot (Tussilago Farfara L.). Its bright yellow flowers are often mistaken for Dandelion, but Coltsfoot is recognised by a quick check for the leaves … Coltsfoot blooms before its leaves appear.



The yellow blooms of Tussilago form large patches in waste areas, beside brooks and roads, and on damp hillsides. Its dandelion-like flowers are borne on scaly, leafless stems. Later, the large, woolly leaves appear. Other names for the plant are Son-before-the-Father, which refers to the appearance of flowers before the leaves, and pas-d’âne (literally donkey-steps). The scientific names are from the Latin tussis, meaning a cough and referring to the European use of the plant as a remedy for such ailments, and the Latin word for coltsfoot, farfarus. The plant was named by Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who established the present day system of naming plants.





Tussilago Farfara L.



splashed beside the road

like prints

of a frisky colt’s feet


at first glance-

an early dandelion!


too early

stem scaly

no leaves          below the bloom

no perfume.




(flowers before the leaves).

Introduced from

far away.


Old wives say

boiled greens

will ease

a cough.


Long ago


sprang from where

a burro trod

among the palms





Poem published as: ‘Coltsfoot’, Winter 1993, The Antigonish Review 92:76-77.

Copyright 2018 Jane Tims


Written by jane tims

May 4, 2018 at 7:30 am

5 Responses

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  1. so beautiful that you managed to capture the essence of this flower in black and white

    Liked by 1 person

    Maureen Sudlow

    May 4, 2018 at 7:25 pm

  2. You’ve really captured the feel of this wee plant.

    Liked by 1 person


    May 4, 2018 at 9:34 am

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