Watpan (Tussilago farfara): Distribution, Habitat, Morphology, Economic Importance and Extracts

Watpan (Tussilago farfara): Distribution, Habitat, Morphology, Economic Importance and Extracts


Kingdom: Plantae

Family: Asteraceae

Order: Asterales

Scientific Name: Tussilago farfara

Common Name: Coltsfoot, Bullsfoot, Coughwort, Butterbur, Horsehoof, English tobacco, Watpan


Tussilago farfara L. (Compositae) is a perennial plant found in Korea, China, North Africa, Siberia, and Europe. Coltsfoot is native to Europe and has since expanded to western and northern Asia, North Africa, and North America. From the lowlands to the dwarf-pine belt, it can be found all over Poland.


Tussilago farfara L., sometimes known as coltsfoot, is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family that is widely distributed in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. The yellow flowers bloom in the early spring, but the leaves appear after the seeds have ripened. Coltsfoot flower buds are a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used to treat respiratory tract ailments for generations, as well as more recently, as a cough suppressant, expectorant, and soothing agent for mucosa, skin illnesses, wounds, and pimples.

Tussilago farfara Plant


1. Tussilago farfara L., Asteraceae is a perennial herbaceous plant with thin, branched rhizomes and yellow flowers (capitulum) that bloom before the leaves in early April.

2. Roadsides, clay slopes, fields and fallow lands, riverfront gravels, and other disturbed and ruderal sites are colonised by this anemochoric pioneer species.

3. T. farfara is one of the oldest herbs in traditional medicine, and it’s mostly used to treat obstructive lung illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

4. Coltsfoot leaves (Farfarae folium) are the primary raw material in Poland and other European countries, although flower buds (known as KuanDong-Hua) are used in folk Chinese medicine.

5. T. farfara flower buds, also known as “Kuandonghua,” are gathered in the winter or spring before the flower buds open, as the medicinal quality decreases after flowering.

6. The leaves of T. farfara, sometimes known as coltsfoot, have long been used to treat bronchial infections in European countries (Lebada et al., 2000).

7. The dried and sliced leaves of this plant are sold in Norway as folk medicine and used in teas to treat coughs and chest ailments (Borka and Onshuus, 1979).

8. T. farfara flower buds are a popular folk remedy for coughing and wheezing.

9. Tussilago farfara grows in a variety of disturbed settings, from open to shaded (Ogden 1974). Plants seem to prefer damp to wet soils, but they can also thrive in dry environments.

10. Coltsfoot is a low-growing creeping perennial with a branched rhizome system that exhibits extensive clonal growth.

11. Coltsfoot has a high rate of vegetative reproduction, with clones easily formed from short rhizome segments with only one node.

12. The rhizomes that connect the above-ground sections of the plant to the main plant stem are exceedingly brittle, separating and breaking in a couple of weeks.

13. Coltsfoot is propagated via underground rhizomes, which are generally spread by agricultural activities, each seed head can contain up to 350 seeds, which can be dispersed by the wind, however generative reproduction via seed is relatively low (Pfeiffer et al, 2007). The seeds have a brief lifespan as well.


Tussilago farfara is a rhizomatous perennial that can reach a height of 19.7 inches (50 cm) and establish large colonies. In the spring, the plants send up blooming stems, each with a single yellow flower head. Basal leaves on long petioles sprout from the rhizomes just before or after flowers form seeds, with slightly roundish leaf blades that are more or less white-woolly on the undersides.

Native Range: Temperate Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia are native ranges.


Plants have long creeping white scaly rhizomes as roots. Rhizomes have fibrous roots and branching. They’re also brittle and easily breakable.


Stems are tall and unbranched stems that emerge from the ground before the basal leaves and end in a flowerhead (Barkley 2006). Small bunches of stems grow.


The leaves of Tussilago farfara are divided into two types: stem leaves and base leaves. The leaves on the blooming stems are alternately placed, tiny and scale or bract-like, and sometimes purple. Basal leaves appear after blooming stems on petioles ranging in length from 1.2 to 13.8 inches (3 to 35 cm) and sprout from rhizomes in rosettes.


During blossoming, flowerheads are upright and nod before and after (Chen and Nordenstam 2011). The solitary yellow daisy-like flowerhead is at the stem’s end. The involucre (collection of bracts at the base of the flowerhead) is 8 to 15 mm tall, with one to two sets of bracts. The daisy-like flowerhead receptacle is flat or slightly convex, with yellow ray and disc blooms (Webb et al. 1988). The ray flowers are arranged in four to five rows, with slender, 8 to 12 mm long corollas (petals fused to look like one petal) that are functionally female. A smaller number of yellow disc blooms in the middle of the flowerhead, with corollas 10 to 12 mm long, are functionally male.


A single-seeded achene with a pappus attached is known as a cypsela (plural cypselae). The cypselae are cylindric, 3–4 mm in length, glabrous, and have 5–10 ribs. The pappus is made up of many white, hair-like bristles that range in length from 8 to 12 mm. flowers are the only ones that can produce cypselae and are hence fertile.


Tussilago farfara can reproduce by seed and spread vegetatively through fragmenting rhizomes. Wind disperses seeds, which can create new populations, produce rhizomes, and spread.

Seed production varies greatly between habitats as well as from year to year within the same population. The number of seeds generated per plant varies between 3500 and 157 per flowerhead. Seed production is influenced by a variety of factors, including weather and plant competition, with better yields happening in places where competition is reduced. In the seedbank, seeds appear to be transient and short-lived. Only a few seeds germinated at 5 months and none at 6 months, indicating that they were at their most viable up to 3 months of age.

Although plants growing in favourable conditions can produce a large number of seeds in a year, many to most seedlings do not survive the first growth season, dying before they can develop rhizomes. (Namura Ochalska) discovered a seedling and juvenile survival rate of roughly 10% in a population recovering from a large disturbance over several years. The remaining seedlings developed at a faster pace after a portion of the seedlings died. Seeds put on the soil surface germinated 100 per cent, but those buried 1 cm had a 50 per cent mortality rate and those buried to a depth of 2 cm had an 88 per cent mortality rate. Seedlings will not emerge aboveground if seeds are buried too deeply. Seedlings and juveniles may thrive in a variety of soils, with up to 30% of juveniles surviving on nutrient-deficient substrates like sand or gravel and sand. T. farfara is a successful pioneering species because of its high fertility and germination rate, low weight, and capacity to live in low-nutrient soils.

Tussilago farfara can colonise new places because its seeds are transported by the wind (Namura-Ochalska 1987). Seeds are normally delivered by their pappus approximately several hundred metres from a fruiting person, however, the wind may bring them further.

Economic Importance

In agricultural systems, Tussilago farfara is a weed. It has been identified as a specific issue in the Scandinavian region of Europe, as well as in organic crops. In Sweden, Tussilago farfara has increased dramatically on organic farms during the last two decades. T. farfara can invade, spread, and reproduce in cultivated fields due to its development cycle, reproduction, and preference for disturbed conditions, making it difficult to control (Namura-Ochalska 1993). Also, rhizome depth is usually found at 1.0 to 1.6 feet (30 to 50 cm) below the ploughing depth.


While Tussilago farfara is used medicinally for a variety of conditions (see Beneficial), the plants contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), primarily senkirkine and traces of senecionine (Cao et al. 2016). T. farfara PA is known to be heptotoxic (liver-damaging) and could lead to liver cancer or chronic liver illness (Gorman et al. 2005, Xia et al. 2013 in Cao et al. 2016). If the amount of T. farfara used is carefully regulated, these PA may be present in a low enough concentration to be harmless (Nedelcheva et al. 2015, Cao et al. 2016). There have been instances where a different plant was utilised instead of T. farfara, resulting in harmful effects and incapacity in people (Nedelcheva et al. 2015). For example, it was later determined that the leaves of Petasites had been wrongly utilised in a case of a newborn being poisoned by a tea containing T. farfara (Roulet et al. 1988 in Frohne and Pfander 2005).


1. Tussilago farfara has been utilised as a therapeutic plant in Chinese medical gardens for generations.

2. The juvenile flowerheads and leaves, before they emerge from the ground, have a wide range of therapeutic applications (Chinese Herbs Healing n.d., Chen and Nordenstam 2011).

3. Tussilago farfara is a plant that is often used to treat coughs and other respiratory illnesses, as well as as an expectorant, platelet-activating factor, and anti-inflammatory agent (Cao et al. 2016).

4. Based on the plant’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, crushed leaves are applied externally to treat wounds, burns, injuries, and eye discomfort (Nedelcheva et al. 2015).

5. The plants are also used to make honey in China and Europe (Chen and Nordenstam 2011, Nedelcheva 2015).

6. Gardeners rarely utilise Tussilago farfara as an attractive plant due to its vigorous growth (Everett 1981).

7. Everett (1981) also mentions that the species, as well as a variegated variant, was utilised to maintain banks and was employed in herb and medicinal gardens.

Top Questions

Question: What are the Coltsfoot Root, Leaf and Flower Extracts?

ANS: The chemical ingredients of coltsfoot are mostly studied in the literature for its flower buds. Farfarae flos contains several different components, including flavonoids, simple phenolic acids, caffeic acid derivatives, sesquiterpenes (mostly tussilagone), chromones, essential oil, phytosterols, fatty acids, amino acids, inorganic acids, and pyrrolizidine alkaloids, according to extensive phytochemical studies.

Sesquiterpenoids appear to be one of Farfarae flos’ most pharmacologically active chemicals. Tussilagone, which acts as a mild platelet-activating factor antagonist and a Ca2+ channel blocker, may be useful in the treatment of cardiovascular and respiratory system illnesses (e.g. asthma). Farfarae flos extracts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, as well as inhibiting enzymes like -glucosidase, NO synthetase in LPS-activated macrophages or murine microglial cells, and diacylglycerol acyltransferase. Coltsfoot leaves from plant kinds free of hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids are utilised in the same cases as flower buds in China in European medicine. Coltsfoot leaves or blossoms can be purchased separately in Poland to make herbal drinks. Even though coltsfoot leaves are used in medicine as an ingredient in a variety of herbal preparations (herbal teas, syrups, and tablets) for upper respiratory tract infections with cough and difficulty in expectoration, little information on its chemical elements is available.

Question: What is the Scientific name of Coltsfoot?

ANS: Tussilago farfara

Question: What is the common name of Tussilago farfara?

ANS: Coltsfoot, Bullsfoot, Coughwort, butterbur, Horsehoof, English tobacco,watpan

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