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Meadowmat wildflower species: Common Toadflax

Common Toadflax

yellow flower spike of common toadflax wildflower

The common toadflax, is also known as yellow toadflax, the chilling 'dead men's bones', and the descriptive, 'butter and eggs'. The Latin name for this species of toadflax is Linaria vulgaris, with Linaria simply meaning toadflax, and vulgaris translating as common.

It is a wild perennial herb which is similar in appearance to the garden snapdragon, has a short, creeping root system, and several, erect and slender stems, reaching up to around a metre in height. These stems are rarely branched, instead featuring numerous long, narrow leaves, of a pale blue-green colouration, generally 2-6cm in length, and 1-5mm wide.

What does toadflax look like?

The yellow wild flowers of the common toadflax sit proudly atop the upright stems, with vibrant orange lower lips. These clustered flowers are normally between 2.5 and 3.5cm long and are almost always closed, with only strong insects, such as bumblebees able to pry their way inside. Above these flowers sit the fruit, a globose capsule of numerous seeds, approximately 5-11mm in length and half as broad.

The common toadflax adds real beauty to your Meadowmat. In contrast to its gentle beauty, the common toadflax is found commonly in nature in ruderal locations, such as roadsides, disturbed ground, and dunes, where it is able to establish itself on the sparsest of rubble. This plant is a native species of much of the Northern Hemisphere, from North America, throughout much of Europe, and as far East as Siberia and China.

The delicate looking, but hardy common toadflax is present year round in some form, but flowers from late June until October and the first signs of frost. This gives a splash of yellow wildflowers to your Meadowmat for over one third of the year.

Common toadflax, an important uk wildflower

The common toadflax attracts a huge array of fauna, including the aptly named Toadflax Pug Moth, the caterpillars of which, feed specifically on the seedpods and flowers. Other visiting moths include the mouse moth, satyr pug moth and the descriptively named, silver Y. Bumblebees and butterflies, including the small skipper, are attracted to this wild perennial, which in turn bring their predators, such as small birds and bats.

The common toadflax is widely held as possessing numerous medicinal properties, even though the oils contained within it are reported to be poisonous. Freshly picked toadflax has an unpleasant, peculiar odour, which is mostly removed upon drying. The plant may be useful for a variety of ailments, from jaundice to haemorrhoids, as well as being a potent emetic.

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