When is a weed not a weed? Many years ago I went to China with a group of horticulturalists led by well known plantsman Roy Lancaster. He always used to say that a weed was only a weed when the plant was growing somewhere we did not want it to grow. When out walking we have found many patches of Coltsfoot’s bright yellow flowers on the side of the dirt roads.
I admire these bold flowers that emerge when the weather is still cold enough to have snow on the ground in the morning.But here is an official description of Coltsfoot from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is a perennial weed native to Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia. It was introduced to Canada in the 1920’s, and can now be found in most provinces. It has been positively identified through the Weed Alert Program in 27 counties in Southern Ontario. While widespread in Southern Ontario, coltsfoot is still found on only a relatively few farms. For example, up to 1986, it has been reported on only 10 farms in Middlesex County. The most common location for coltsfoot is on roadsides, both township roads and highways. From this foothold, it can spread by seed or rhizomes to adjacent fields. While this weed has not spread rapidly, it is of concern because there are very few herbicides that will control it adequately, and it thrives in several crops.Ontario Ministry of Agriculture , food and rural affairs.
So there you have it. Coltsfoot is a survivor. The flowers come out early but the leaves do not appear till June or July. The flowers seem to need little in the way of good soil or fertilizer and thrive in gravel next to the road.
I can appreciate that for farmers the Coltsfoot could be seen as a “weed” and a problem. But since it seems to be mainly on the edges of the road I see it as a cheerful yellow flower that I appreciate in these times of lockdown. I also think it may qualify for Sunshine’s Macro Monday #40.