Ontario Weeds: Toadflax

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links

Name: Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris Mill.,

Other Names: linaire vulgaire, Butter-and-eggs, Common toadflax, Yellow toadflax, Wild snapdragon, linaire commune

Family: Figwort or Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by extensively creeping roots which produce new shoots and form very dense patches.

Photos and Pictures




Stems & Roots: Stems erect, 20-90cm (8-36in.) high, usually branched in the upper part, smooth and hairless; leaves alternate (1 per node) but often so numerous and crowded they appear opposite (2 per node), or whorled (3 or more per node), very narrow.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in racemes at ends of stems and branches, each flower short-stalked; sepals 5, narrow; corolla 2-3cm (4/5-1¼in.) long, of 5 united petals, yellow with an orange spot on the lower lip, very irregular with a long spur at the lower end and 2-lipped at the top, the upper lip with 2 small lobes, the lower lip with 3 larger lobes, the flower resembling the cultivated snapdragon in shape; seedpods egg-shaped, containing many dark brown or black, flat, winged seeds. Flowers from June to autumn.

Habitat: Toadflax is widely distributed throughout Ontario, occurring in many habitats including roadsides, fence lines, waste places, pastures, edges of woods, and cultivated fields.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its perennial spreading root system; its short, smooth stems with numerous, alternate, smooth, very narrow leaves with watery juice (contrasts with Leafy spurge and Cypress spurge) and its bright yellow and orange snapdragon-like flowers, the lips of which will open if the sides of the flower are gently squeezed between thumb and finger. The seedpods of Toadflax are often very warty in appearance due to an insect which lives inside eating the developing seeds.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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