There are some prominent differences in the flower as well (between dandelion and coltsfoot), but if you just saw Coltsfoot flowering by itself, it might be a common mistake to make.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is useful in and of itself: more as an herb than a wild edible. The herb is a decongestant which resolves phelgm and relieves coughing, wheezing, bronchitis and asthma. The entire above-ground portion of the herb: flowers, leaves, stalk, are either dried and steeped as tea or made into a tincture by steeping in alcohol.
In Chinese medicine Coltsfoot flower is known as kuan dong hua and is used to stop cough (the dried flowers are made into a tea, often combined with other herbs.)
If you do see Coltsfoot around, though, now is the time to harvest it! Harvest the complete above-ground portion and set on non-metallic screens to dry, or hang upside-down in bunches. Or, chop the herb, fill a jar, and cover with 80 or 100 proof vodka. Steep for 6 weeks, then filter out the plant matter, saving the liquid: this is your tincture.
Coltsfoot is a mild herb with minimal toxicity, so the standard adult dose of the tincture is 2 - 4 ml/day, or about 50 drops. Children’s doses would be smaller.
Happy harvesting, and please let us know what you find and do!
Well on my walk yesterday, I found another weird thing. It wasn't coltsfoot. It was actually catsfoot. Here is a pic: