The herbaceous perennial, native to Europe and Asia, is so named because its leaves resemble a colt's foot. The flower comes up first, then the leaf. In a few weeks the leaves wither and die. Our coltsfoot first appeared last year, the tiny seeds probably having blown in from afar.
Settlers introduced coltsfoot to the Americas as a medicinal. It's since been a fairly common sight, especially in edge habitats, such as roadsides. Some consider it invasive. Historically, coltsfoot has been used by humans in the treatment of lung ailments including asthma, coughs and skin conditions. It's also been consumed as a food and dried and smoked as a tobacco alternative. Some moth and butterfly species in their larval stage consume coltsfoot, and honeybees are know to work the plant for its pollen.