Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Galloping towards Spring


Coltsfoot,  Tussilago farfara, I’d  recently been thinking how I’d not seen this sunny little spring flower for donkey’s years, I’d even thought about going to see if it still grows in the place I remember it as a child (funny how I can remember where that is, but not where I’ve put my phone) and then I stumble upon a magnificent clump a few hundred yards from the house.

Coltsfoot 2

Historically it was used to treat coughs and asthma (although  the toxins it’s now known to contain wouldn’t have done your liver any good) my book also says it was dried and smoked, so that’s not going to improve your cough is it?

Gypsy folklore has it that wherever it grows, coal will be found below. And I have to say, that for the sake of my neighbours house we have to hope its a coal seam (which is entirely possible) and not a coal mine.


I’d been reminiscing with some friends about coltsfoot rock, a sweet we used to buy as children, it became apparent from the conversation, that it is a bit of northern delicacy (its made in Lancashire)  

Three sticks of Coltsfoot Rock

My memory is that it tastes not unlike liquorice, and a few weeks later I stumbled upon some in an old fashioned sweetie shop, I was looking for Parma Violets at the time, but that’s another story. I can confirm, it still tastes like liquorice. I bought some for my friends, one was so taken by the memory of it, she took some sticks home, broke them into pieces, so that she could make it last longer, I doubt we did that as kids.



Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

6 thoughts on “Galloping towards Spring

  1. That is not a sweet that I have ever come across.

  2. I’ve heard of coltsfoot, but it’s not found in most of the U.S. It’s an introduced plant here, and seems to be mostly in the northeastern states. On the other hand, it is in the groundsel tribe, and there are at least three groundsels I know of that are native to Texas. There may be more. They’re pretty plants, and the medicinal use for coltsfoot is right there in the name of the genus: Tussilago. After all, the medical name for whooping cough is pertussis, and there’s a cough syrup here called Pertussin. I couldn’t find the ingredients, to see if coltsfoot is included!

  3. It’s funny how childhood memories seem always to involve the senses — sights, tastes, feels. Sensory memories are among the most evocative. Marcel Proust’s madeleine is an obvious case in point.

    P.S. to Shoreacres, “tussis” is Latin for “cough” so any medical word with “tuss” or “tussi” in it has something to do with cough.

  4. I’d never heard of Coltsfoot Rock. Isn’t it funny how food used to be so geographically linked? Nowadays, children around here think that sloes growing on the blackthorn hedges around the fields are blueberries or olives – both unheard of in my childhood.

  5. Lovely post and pictures. I’ve never come across coltsfoot rock, but the name Swizzels is vaguely familiar . xx

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