The common name refers to the shape of the leaf, which resembles a colt's hoof-print.
The common name 'son before father' refers to the emergence of the flowers before leaves.
The genus name 'Tussilago' is derived from the Latin word "tussis" meaning 'cough' for which the plant is supposed to provide a cure.
Coltsfoot once served a number of medicinal uses. Leaves and roots were dried, ground, or boiled and used to make teas, candies, and tobaccos. However, recent studies in Japan found that coltsfoot flowers cause tumors in rats.
Scottish Highlanders used the hairy tufts from the seeds as mattress stuffing.