Tussilago farfaraAsteraceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruit
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • colts foot

The Plant:

  • An herbaceous perennial, 3-18 inches tall. Grows from a basal rosettes of leaves.

The Leaves:

  • basal
  • long petioled
  • smooth above
  • dense, white pubescence below
  • long petioles
  • 3-7 inches wide
  • deltoid
  • toothed and lobed late in season

The Stem:

  • scaly leaf stalks (scapes)

The Flowers:

  • Yellow dandelion-like flowers with many petals. The flowers bloom on scaly stalks before the leaves emerge. Blooms in early spring.

The Fruits:

  • white balls of tufted seeds
  • similar to dandelions
  • 0.125 inches long
  • cylindrical
  • yellow or red brown

The Habitat:

  • damp soils
  • stream banks
  • waste areas


  • seeds are wind dispersed
  • also spreads vegetatively by long rhizomes

Key ID Features:

  • basal
  • hairy below
  • long petioles
  • yellow dandelion-like
  • scaly stalk

Similar Species:

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is very similar except that the scape that bears the flower is smooth and that of Tussilago farfara has scales on it.


  • Very long and deep rhizomes enable the formation of large colonies. An early flowering time can give this plant an advantage over native species.
  • Isolated, small populations reported at the Madaket dump in 1995 and in a wetland off Polpis Rd. in 2001.
  • This species does occur on Nantucket, but is not yet naturalized. Can be found on Mass Audubon property, and has also been recorded at the Madaket Dump.

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: Europe

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Potential Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Likely Invasive

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: importation ban, propagation ban

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston