A low to medium height native perennial with characteristic yellow flowers resembling a lion’s mouth. Common toadflax is a medicinal plant, and it can also be used to bleach freckles. Repels flies. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
€4,50 – €19,50
Polish name: common flax, lamb cabbage, Our Lady’s slippers, toad flax, wild flax, St. Catherine’s herb
Latin name: Linaria vulgaris L.
Family: the plantain family Plantaginaceae (formerly the figwort family Scrophulariaceae)
Status in Poland: native, common
The perennial plant with well-developed underground organs, narrow leaves and quite characteristic pectinate flowers.
Has erect aboveground shoots, growing approx. 20-40 cm, even up to 90 cm high, alternate and densely foliaged, almost completely bare, glanded and ciliated under the inflorescence only.
Leaves are small, highly elongated, linear or oblong-lanceolate like in grasses and true sedges, characterized by acute apexes, truncate bases and the presence of 1-3 veins.
The flowers forming on short stalks in the axils of the bracts are characterized by a pectinate structure visible from a distance, a dark yellow or light orange tube and prominent spurs. These spurs, clearly shorter than the corolla, tend to be either strongly bent or completely straight in common toadflax. Due to their pectinate structure and strongly narrow tube, only bumblebees and the largest solitary bees can pollinate this toadflax.
The fruit will be less long than the calyx, elliptical capsule, opening with notches at the apex. Contrary to plantain, one capsule of toadflax contains hundreds or thousands of tiny seeds. Single seeds are characterized by the shape of “flying saucers of UFO” and numerous warts on the surface. TSW is 0.2 g.
Prefers very light places, but tolerates partial shade. There are no special requirements in terms of humidity, fertility, or soil pH.
Despite its slightly poisonous properties, it was eagerly sown in gardens in recent centuries with young children who loved to play with its pecnicate flowers.
In the Middle Ages common toadflax flowers were compared with shoes, so the entire plant was called “Our Lady’s slippers”. This was confusing because a number of other species with somewhat similar pecnicate flowers with spurs were called identically, including aconites, larkspurs (Delphinium), and slipper orchids.
According to the common rule for all traditional cultures that “like cures like”, by herb of common toadflax used to be treated varicose veins because of its shoe-like flowers. It was also used to bleach freckles. First of all, it was a mild laxative, much weaker than alder buckthorn. Due to its milder effect, it was given to children and the elders.
Latin and Polish generic name “Linaria/ flax” comes from the linseed. The common toadflax was a fairly common weed of this fiber and oil plant. In the course of evolution, however, it did not become as closely associated with the linseed cultivation as the so-called weeds-flax specialists: flax dodder, corn spurry, and flax-field ryegrass. These species simply became extinct when humans learned to cleanse the seeds of flax better, and at the same time reduced the acreage of flax cultivation. The common toadflax, on the other hand, remains common as it can persist in many other habitats, especially: pastures, hay meadows, roadsides, field margins, neglected city lawns, or arable fields. Moreover, toadflax is more and more often deliberately sown as a component of urban flower meadows and flower belts in orchards.
There is no data in the available literature. As with many other plants pollinated only by bumblebees, or only by bumblebees and hawk-moths (larkspurs, aconites, dragon flowers,or red clover – in a different manner meadow clover), it is not very attractive to the honey bees, although they can rob nectar without pollinating the flowers.