The sun is back, days are getting longer, the weather is warmer and the snow is rapidly melting away here in Tromsø. Even with all these things happening, there is still only one traditional “sign of Spring” in Norway: The first appearance of the Hestehov (English: Coltsfoot). As soon as there is a patch of bare ground and some sunlight, these small (raggedy) yellow flowers pop up alongside roads, fences and ditches everywhere. Soon the ground is covered in yellow and children run around to pick a bunch for their mums.
The first coltsfoot of the year always makes a story on the news. It’s as if it is a symbol of life’s triumph over the cold winter and of nature waking after the Great Slumber. In the south of Norway, the coltsfoot is known to appear as early as January, whereas in the north the little fellas tend to hold it off until April.
The coltsfoot is by many considered an “invasive species”, but since they prefer wasteland they don’t really present a problem to gardening. The plant is actually quite edible and can be used for tea, seasoning, cough medicine and even as a tobacco substitute – without the unfortunate nicotine side effects!