Toadflax

Botanical Name : Linaria vulgaris
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Genus: Linaria
Species: L. vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms:Fluellin. Pattens and Clogs. Flaxweed. Ramsted. Snapdragon. Churnstaff. Dragon-bushes. Brideweed. Toad. Yellow Rod. Larkspur Lion’s Mouth. Devils’ Ribbon. Eggs and Collops. Devil’s Head. Pedlar’s Basket. Gallwort. Rabbits. Doggies. Calves’ Snout. Eggs and Bacon. Buttered Haycocks. Monkey Flower.

Common Names:Toadflax or Common Toadflax, Yellow Toadflax, or Butter-and-eggs.

Other names:
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 Kickxia), gallweed, gallwort, 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.

Habitat : Toadflax  is a  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. It has also been introduced and is now common in North America.

Description:
Toadflax 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 tip 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.

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The stems terminate in rather dense spikes of showy yellow flowers, the corolla in general shape like that of the Snapdragon, but with a long spur, and with the lower lip orange. The Toadflax flowers throughout the summer, from late June to October.

Sometimes a curiously-shaped Toadflax blossom will be found: instead of only one spur being produced, each of the five petals whose union builds up the toad-like corolla forms one, and the flower becomes of regular, though almost unrecognizable shape. This phenomenon is termed by botanists, ‘peloria,’ i.e. a monster. As a rule it is the terminal flower that is thus symmetrical in structure, but sometimes flowers of this type occur all down the spike.

The name Toadflax originated in the resemblance of the flower to little toads, there being also a resemblance between the mouth of the flower and the wide mouth of a toad. Coles says that the plant was called Toadflax, ‘because Toads will sometimes shelter themselves amongst the branches of it.’

The general resemblance of the plant in early summer to a Flax plant, accounts for the latter part of its name, and also for another of its country names, ‘Flaxweed.’ The Latin name, Linaria, from linum (flax), was given it by Linnaeus, from this likeness to a flax plant before flowering. The mixture of light yellow and orange in the flowers has gained for it the provincial names of ‘Butter and Eggs,’ ‘Eggs and Bacon,’ etc.

Cultivation:
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” by squeezing them at the base of the corolla.

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The plant requires ample drainage, but is otherwise adaptable to a variety of conditions. 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.

Medicinal Uses:

Constituents:  Toadflax abounds in an acrid oil, reputed to be poisonous, but no harm from it has ever been recorded. Little or nothing is known of its toxic principle, but its use in medicine was well known to the ancients.

Its constituents are stated to be two glucosides, Linarin and Pectolinarian, with linarosin, linaracin, antirrhinic, tannic and citric acids, a yellow colouring matter, mucilage and sugar.

The plant has some powerful qualities as a purgative and diuretic, causing it to be recommended in jaundice, liver, skin diseases and scrofula; an infusion of 1 OZ. to the pint has been found serviceable as an alterative in these cases and in incipient dropsy. The infusion has a bitter and unpleasant taste, occasioned by the presence of the acrid essential oil. It was at one time in great reputation among herb doctors for dropsy. The herb distilled answers the same purpose, as a decoction of both leaves and flowers in removing obstructions of the liver. It is very effectual if a little Peruvian bark or solution of quinine and a little cinnamon be combined with it. Gerard informs us that ‘the decoction openeth the stopping of the liver and spleen, and is singular good against the jaundice which is of long continuance,’ and further states that ‘a decoction of Toadflax taketh away the yellownesse and deformitie of the skinne, being washed and bathed therewith.’

The fresh plant is sometimes applied as a poultice or fomentation to haemorrhoids, and an ointment of the flowers has been employed for the same purpose, and also locally in diseases of the skin. A cooling ointment is made from the fresh plant – the whole herb is chopped and boiled in lard till crisp, then strained. The result is a fine green ointment, a good application for piles, sores, ulcers and skin eruptions.

The juice of the herb, or the distilled water, has been considered a good remedy for inflammation of the eyes, and for cleansing ulcerous sores.

Boiled in milk, the plant is said to yield an excellent fly poison, and it is an old country custom in parts of Sweden to infuse Toadflax flowers in milk, and stand the infusion about where flies are troublesome.

The flowers have been employed in Germany as a yellow dye.

A tea made from the leaves was taken as a laxative and strong diuretic as well as for jaundice, dropsy, and enteritis with drowsiness. For skin diseases and piles, either a leaf tea or an ointment made from the flowers was used. In addition, a tea made in milk instead of water has been used as an insecticide. It is confirmed to have diuretic and fever-reducing properties.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/toadfl19.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linaria_vulgaris

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