A welcome sign of the spring. Often confused with the Dandelion, flowers appear from the overwintered rhizomes before the leaves, which appear in summer the size of small rhubarb leaves - resulting in a Roman descriptive name of filius ante patrem (son before father).
Appearing before bees are out and about, it is pollinated by hover flies and is a widely used anti-tussive or cough remedy (which is what Tussilago means).
Herbal teas are variously made of the dried leaves and flowers which are said to contain the flavonoids , rutin and carotene, taraxanthin, arnidiol and faradiol, tannin, inulin, sitosterol (closely related to cholesterol), and zinc.Use as a hebal remedy is restricted in Australia and New Zealand because it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (senkirkine , senecionine) which are known to be hepatotoxic and have been shown to cause liver damage in rats. Known cases of human liver damage have been the result of persistent (6-12 months) and large dosages of herbal teas. There has also been a report of foetal death due to dietary consumption of herbal products containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids which result in Hepatic veno-occlusive disease, (VOD), a very specific form of hepatotoxic pathology.
A widespread plant and common in waste places in UK and Europe. Listed as an invasive weed in several Eastern US states, Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee and also in Oregon.