Linaria vulgaris (Common Toadflax) is a low growing plant native to most of Europe and northern Asia, from the United Kingdom south to Spain in the west, and east to eastern Siberia and western China.
Linaria acutiloba Fisch. ex Rchb. is a synonym. Because this plant grows as a weed, it has acquired a large number of local colloquial names, including brideweed, bridewort, butter and eggs (but see Lotus corniculatus), butter haycocks, bread and butter, bunny haycocks, bunny mouths, calf's snout, Continental weed, dead men's bones, devil's flax, devil's flower, doggies, dragon bushes, eggs and bacon (but see Lotus corniculatus), eggs and butter, false flax, flaxweed, fluellen (but see Kichxia), gallweed, gallwort, imprudent lawyer, impudent lawyer, Jacob's ladder (but see Polemonium), lion's mouth, monkey flower (but see Mimulus), North American ramsted, rabbit flower, rancid, ransted, snapdragon (but see Antirrhinum), wild flax, wild snapdragon, wild tobacco (but see Nicotiana), yellow rod, yellow toadflax.
The plant is widespread on ruderal spots, along roads, in dunes, and on disturbed and cultivated land. It has escaped from cultivation in North America where it is a common naturalised weed of roadsides and poor soils; it is listed as an invasive species in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
It is a perennial plant with short spreading roots, erect to decumbent stems 15–90 cm high, with fine, threadlike, glaucous blue-green leaves 2–6 cm long and 1–5 mm broad. The flowers are similar to those of the snapdragon, 25–33 mm long, pale yellow except for the lower lip which is orange, borne in dense terminal racemes from mid summer to mid autumn. The fruit is a globose capsule 5–11 mm long and 5–7 mm broad, containing numerous small seeds.
The plant requires ample drainage, but is otherwise adaptable to a variety of conditions.
While most commonly found as a weed, toadflax is sometimes cultivated for cut flowers, which are long-lasting in the vase. Like snapdragons (Antirrhinum), they are often grown in children's gardens for the "snapping" flowers which can be made to "talk" be squeezing them at the base of the corolla.
Pests and Diseases
The plant is foodplant for a large number of insects such as the w:Sweet-Gale Moth (Acronicta euphorbiae), w:Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis), w:Silver Y (Autographa gamma), w:Calophasia lunula, w:Gorgone Checkerspot (Charidryas gorgone carlota), w:Toadflax Pug (Eupithecia linariata), w:Satyr Pug (Eupithecia satyrata), w:Falseuncaria ruficiliana, w:Bog Fritillary (Proclossiana eunomia eunomia), w:Pyrrhia umbra, w:Brown Rustic (Rusina ferruginea), and w:Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla.
- Natural History Museum: Linaria vulgaris
- Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
- Flora Europaea: Linaria vulgaris
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Linaria vulgaris
- Mabey, R. (1996). Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson ISBN 1-85619-377-2
- Alberta Invasive Plants: Common Toadflax (pdf file)
- Nathaniel Lord Britton and Hon. Addison Brown, An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada, Dover Publications, 1913, 1970. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 vol 3, p. 177
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