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Creeping Toadflax

Linaria repens

  • Name also: Pale Todflax, Striped Toadflax
  • Family: Plantain Family – Plantaginaceae
    (formerly Figwort Family – Scrophulariaceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 20–50 cm (8–20 in.). Stem unbranched, hairless.
  • Flower: Zygomorphic. Corolla white or pale lilac with violet veins, fused, bilabiate, spurred, 8–15 mm (0.3–0.6 in.) long. Upper lip 2-lobed; lower lip 3-lobed; the often yellowish swelling at its base closes the corolla tightly. Spur conical, 2–3 mm (ca. 0.1 in.) long. Calyx fused, 4-lobed. Stamens 4. Pistil fused, style solitary. Inflorescence fairly sparse, spike-like raceme.
  • Leaves: Lower ones in spirals, upper alternate, stalkless. Blade narrow, sharp-tipped.
  • Fruit: Capsule, 3–4 mm (0.12–0.18 in.) long.
  • Habitat: Railway stations and banks, waysides, field margins, ballast-drop-off areas.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Creeping toadflax arrived in Finland in ancient times, probably on sailing ships. The trade ships that returned to Finland were only partly loaded and therefore took some ballast in foreign harbours to retain their stability, and this ballast was often soil. This was unloaded close to the home port in places especially reserved for this purpose. With the soil, spores, seeds and fruits of plants were also spread. The era of sailing ships ended at the beginning of the 20th century, but in many places our vegetation still reminds us those days gone by. Creeping toadflax is still growing in these ballast-drop-off areas and has even slowly conquered new growing sites. The species is still fairly local and often grows in precisely the same rooting places as it did decades ago. The species can also be found outside its regular growing places as a weed, such as in cultivated areas or growing alongside cereal crops. Creeping toadflax hybridizes freely with yellow toadflax (L. vulgaris), and hybrids of different degrees are commonly to be found in nature in all common growing areas of the two species.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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