Tag Archives: coltsfoot

“European Butterbur”

“Northern Sweet Coltsfoot”

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
― Marcel Proust

I found this interesting plant last year, growing in an isolated patch. There are no other instances of this plant in the area, so I’m wondering if it hitchhiked to its current location. It’s a beautiful but strange-looking plant. Like the common yellow coltsfoot which grows in the same area, it blooms before putting out leaves, though the one I photographed is showing a full leaf, just developed and another emerging from the ground.

The biggest joy for me, when exploring the paths and riverways around my home is discovering these little gems and getting to understand the incredible diversity of plants and wildlife in an area that many would consider mundane, even boring, from a photographer’s point of view.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/8 sec, f/32.0 ISO 100

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“Coltsfoot Seed Heads” – Uxbridge

“Coltsfoot Seed Heads” - Secord Forest Trail

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.” 
― Sarah Ban Breathnach

As with its yellow blossoms, many people mistake the coltsfoot seed heads for those of the dandelion. That is, until you take the time to look closer.

I’m finding more and more that people are just not taking the time to actively participate in the world around them. If something can’t be observed quickly or looked up on-line, it gets left behind. Our natural world beckons us to be part of it. When I take hikes to make photos, my world slows down, the business of life slips away, and I can be ‘in’ nature, not just a silent observer. The sounds fill my ears, the smells trigger memories, and the ever changing light dances through my vision. Some call this living in the moment, and I like that term, because that ‘moment’ lasts only briefly and then, becomes memory.

One of my greatest satisfactions in making photos is that all the images I make represent ‘moments’ which I have borne witness to. I take that as a gift, especially if I am able to effectively convey the ‘feeling’ of that moment through my art.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

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“Coltsfoot” – Whitevale Dam

"Coltsfoot by Boulder"

“Little yellow flower
Like a dandelion shrunk
Yet she’s not its kin at all
She blooms there without leaves

Shows her face in early spring
Shines brightly like the sun
In my childhood, she was dear
Quite precious to be true 

She it was who truly said
That spring had just arrived
I picked bouquets in my small hands
And brought them home to mom 

Even now, quite old and grown
Coltsfoot is still quite dear
In early springtime it’s of her
That I try to catch a glimpse”

Coltsfoot is a pleasant little flower that I look forward to each spring. It’s the first to bloom and many people mistake them for dandelions. When the coltsfoot blooms, spring is just around the corner.

I found the beautiful poem above while looking for a quote suitable for this photo, which I touched up to look like a painting, Something I am quite fond of doing with some of my photos simply because I like the painterly look in some cases.

That a poem about coltsfoot exists is quite delightful and I’m surprised more is not written about it, as it was and is considered a key medicinal plant for treating lung aliments. To the point where the coltsfoot symbol was used to designate a pharmacy not too many years ago. The latin name Tussilago farfara is derived from latin tussis, meaning cough, and ago, meaning to cast or to act on.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6 ISO 200

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“Northern Sweet Coltsfoot” – Whitevale, Ontario

“Northern Sweet Coltsfoot” - Whitevale, Ontario

“The most fulfilling adventures happen when you start your journey without knowing where you’re going, because only then are you free to experience the unexpected detours you’re meant to take.” 
― A.J. Darkholme

Ah, yes, the unexpected, one of my greatest delights. I set out to make photos of fish spawning in a local creek and come across a large, beautiful cluster of spring flowers I have never encountered before. They looked a lot like the familiar Coltsfoot that I see daily now along the creek-bed and in ditches on the roadside. This plant seemed to have the forming leaves of the familiar coltsfoot and the stem of a coltsfoot, but the flower-head looked like an immature Milkweed. This struck me as odd, as I am familiar with most of the native plant species I encounter. Could this be some species that was planted in someone garden and escaped?

I also have a ‘thing’ for wildflowers and local plants, so tend to switch from traditional landscapes to the miniature landscapes that I find on the forest floor, along river basins, and on hillsides, as I travel the countryside.

I made this photograph and looked it up when I got home, a practice I have been following for some years to educate myself on the plants I come across throughout the year. This one surprised me, as I did not know there was such a thing as Sweet Coltsfoot. It all makes sense now and an unexpected encounter became a learning moment for me.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 122 mm
1/1250 sec, f/2.8 ISO 200

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“Spring’s First Bloodroot” – Seaton Trail

“Spring’s First Bloodroot” - Seaton Trail

“Come with me into the woods where spring is
advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”
― Mary Oliver

The inevitable cycle of spring continues with its succession of flowering plants. First to bloom is the Coltsfoot, the next, which just started to bloom yesterday, predictably, about a week after the Coltsfoot, is the Bloodroot – Sanguinaria canadensis.

I love this early blooming spring flower, with its bright white blossoms, emerging from a green ‘shawl’ of leaves. They are interesting in how they bloom, with the blossom forming before the leaves have opened up, much like the Coltsfoot. Which has me wondering if this is some sort of protection in case of a late frost? In any case, I welcome these early harbingers of spring and look forward to the next blossoms, that of the Dog-Tooth Violet or Trout Lily, soon to follow.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 175 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

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“Duffins Creek Rainbow Trout”

“Duffins Creek Rainbow Trout”

“I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins.”
― Khaled Hosseini

In what has become a springtime ritual for me, since discovering the phenomenon, some 20 years after living here, is walking the shores of Duffins Creek, near the town of Whitevale, and enjoying the annual trout run from Lake Ontario, to the Whitevale dam, where I have had some success photographing the trout trying to scale the ten foot tall dam.

To my observations, the run is not triggered by a particular week in the calendar, water temperature, or how clear the water is. The ‘run’ seems to to triggered by some combination of the hours of sunlight and daytime temperatures. Only the trout know what causes this urge to migrate upstream.

Along the shores of this creek grows a plant known as coltsfoot. It’s a small yellow flower, resembling a stunted, thick stemmed dandelion. The first blossom of this spring plant coincides perfectly with the trout run. We’ve had a mixed bag this spring, with temperatures early in the month above normal, yet the coltsfoot was not blooming, until recently. Low and behold, the trout have returned to the river for their annual pilgrimage to the dam. As noted above, the dam is ten feet tall and designed to keep this introduced species from migrating up the river and feeding on the native brown trout.

While they had not made it to the dam yet, I certainly enjoyed seeing the flashes of colour in the water as they fought their way past the current. I’m hoping to get back in the next few days to photograph the jumping.

The trout pictured above was hovering in the current in a relatively shallow part of the creek, providing me the opportunity to make a nice image, showing all his bright colours and patterns.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/50 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250

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“Coltsfoot” – Duffins Creek, near Whitevale, Ontario

This plant is, from my experience, the first plant to flower in spring in southern Ontario. It’s also a signal for me that the Rainbow Trout spawn is starting.

It’s an unusual plant in that it blooms before it puts out foliage. The bright yellow flowers, that people often mistake for dandelions, form quickly on tough brown stalks and then go to seed. Shortly thereafter, large hoof shaped leaves form, thus the name.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm @ 250mm
1/550 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 250