Toadflaxes & Similar Plants

Common Toadflax Small Toadflax Common Snapdragon Ivy-leaved Toadflax

What are they?

The toadflaxes are an attractive bunch of plants, with readily recognised flowers. Perhaps the most familiar example of the group is the Snapdragon, which is commonly grown as a garden plant. The flowers are tubular at the base - with five petals that are fused into a single tube. Towards the open end, the flowers expand into a two lipped mouth, with three petals fused at the base and two at the top. Squeezing the flower at the sides will cause it to open and shut like a mouth, from where we get the name 'snapdragon'. Many species have a long spur at the back, which carries nectar. These plants were all once considered to be members of the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) but more recently, most have been moved to the plantain family (Plantaginaceae).

Where are they found?

This is a diverse bunch of plants that can be found in a wide range of habitats, but most will be found in grassy places, while many are garden ornamentals that are most likely to be found on disturbed ground or in urban environments.

Identification

The toadflaxes in the genus Linaria can be difficult to identify at times and careful attention needs to be paid to the foliage and to all aspects of the flower, especially the length and colour of the spur at the back.



Common Snapdragon      Antirrhinum majus

Introduced as a garden plant from the Mediterranean region and often found where self-seeding into walls and pavements. Flowers June to September. Flowers come in a wide range of colours and have no nectar spur at the base.

Common Snapdragon Common Snapdragon Common Snapdragon Common Snapdragon
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Weasel's-snout      Misopates orontium

An ancient introduction, once established on light, sandy soils. Now rare and declining and perhaps most frequent on sandy soils north-west of Norwich. Flowers July to October. Resembles Common Snapdragon, but the flowers are carried singly in the leaf axils, not in a terminal spike.

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Common Toadflax      Linaria vulgaris

A native, perennial species, common on grassy roadsides and commons throughout much of the area. Flowers June to October. Can form quite extensive patches of bright yellow flowers and sometimes known as Butter-and-eggs. Flowers have a very long nectar spur at the base.

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Purple Toadflax      Linaria purpurea

Introduced as a garden plant and now widespread where it self-seeds in urban and suburban areas. Commonly found growing from walls and cracks in pavements. Flowers June to September. An upright perennial, forming clumps of leafy stems to 90cm in height. Flowers are usually purple, but may occasionally be pale pink. Leaves are a little shorter and broader than those of Common Toadflax.

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Pale Toadflax      Linaria repens

Native in other parts of the UK but in East Anglia, only a rare escape from gardens onto waste ground and not persisting for long. Flowers June to September. A rather sprawling species, less upright than Purple Toadflax. Flowers usually with purplish lines, although these may often be pale and difficult to see.

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Moroccan Toadflax      Linaria maroccana

(Annual Toadflax) A small, annual plant often grown from seed in gardens and occasionally self-seeding into walls and pavement cracks. Flowers June to October. A small, annual species, growing to around 30cm in height. Flowers may be various shades of purple and pink, usually with white and yellow at the centre. The nectar spur is very long and straight, while the petal lobes are more broadly rounded than those of Jersey Toadflax.

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Jersey Toadflax      Linaria pelisseriana

A Mediterranean species, formerly recorded in Suffolk. Flowers June to September. An upright, annual species, the flowers having a very long, straight nectar spur and distinctly narrow, upright petals. Flowers bluish-purple.

Jersey Toadflax Jersey Toadflax
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Long-spurred Toadflax      Linaria chalepensis

A Mediterranean species, once recorded in Suffolk. Flowers June to September. An upright, annual species, the flowers having a very long, strongly curved nectar spur and deeply cut, spreading petal lobes. Flowers white.

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Ivy-leaved Toadflax      Cymbalaria muralis

Introduced as a garden plant from the Mediterranean region and now a very common plant, trailing and scrambling over walls. Flowers May to September. Easily identified from its ivy-like leaves, toadflax flowers and trailing habit. Flowers usually pale violet, but sometimes white.

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Sharp-leaved Fluellen      Kickxia elatine

A weed of arable fields, once much more common but now scarce and most often found on the boulder clays of Suffolk and south Norfolk. Flowers July to October. A trailing annual plant with leaves like those of Field Bindweed, but hairy. Leaves very variable in shape but always with a few pointed lobes. Flowers solitary in the leaf axils on stems more or less hairless except close to the flower, flowers small - just 7-11mm long.

Sharp-leaved Fluellen Sharp-leaved Fluellen Sharp-leaved Fluellen Sharp-leaved Fluellen
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Round-leaved Fluellen      Kickxia spuria

A weed of arable fields, once much more common but now rare and most often found on the boulder clays of Suffolk and south Norfolk. Flowers July to October. A trailing annual plant with rounded, hairy leaves. Flowers solitary in the leaf axils on stems noticeably clothed in long hairs, flowers small - just 7-11mm long.

Round-leaved Fluellen Round-leaved Fluellen Round-leaved Fluellen Round-leaved Fluellen
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Small Toadflax      Chaenorhinum minus

An uncommon plant, found occasionally as an arable weed on chalky soil, but more often as a weed on walls, gravel car parks, railway balast and similar places. Flowers May to October. A small and easily overlooked plant, usually growing to no more than 20cm in height and often less. The whole plant is stickly hairy.

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Oregano-leaved Toadflax      Chaenorhinum origanifolium

Introduced from southern Europe. Often grown as a garden rockery plant and recently found self-seeding into walls at Reepham, Norfolk. Flowers May to October. A small, compact plant to about 15cm in height. Flowers more open and bell-shaped at the mouth than

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Trailing Snapdragon      Asarina procumbens

Introduced from southern Europe. Often grown as a garden rockery plant and known from walls at two sites in Norfolk for over 20 years. Flowers May to September. A trailing plant with snapdragon-like flowers and rounded leaves.

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Cape-jewels      Nemesia strumosa

Introduced from South Africa as a garden annual and occasionally occurring as a garden throw-out on rough ground. Flowers May to September. Flowers may come in a wide range of colours, especially shades of red, blue, purple and white.

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