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Word of the Week: Bract

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Bract [brakt] (botany noun): A specialized leaf or leaflike part, usually situated at the base of a flower.

When Spring comes around, something that many people look forward to are the flowers in bloom. One of the first pops of colours you might notice is the yellow from a beautiful little wildflower that goes by the name of Coltsfoot!

Coltsfoot flowers are single, measuring about 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) across, and surrounded by involucral bracts which means that the base of the flower is surrounded by a set of bracts. The stem will also be covered with scaly bracts, which give the flower stalks an asparagus-like appearance, and white fuzzy hairs.

This early spring flower is often mistaken for dandelion but one of the big differences between coltsfoot and dandelion, is that dandelion leaves appear before the flower does. If you take the time to look closely, you might notice some of the other physical differences between the two flowers, like the stem and the thinner and more delicate-looking yellow florets.

Keep an eye out for Coltsfoot on your next visit to High Park!

Fun Fact: The true leaves of this wildflower are said to be shaped like the hoof of a young horse, which is why it has earned the name coltsfoot.