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Linaria vulgaris - Mill.

Common Name Yellow Toadflax, Butter and eggs
Family Scrophulariaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards One report suggests that the plant might be slightly toxic[76].
Habitats Hedgerows, by ditches, on dry banks and roadside verges. It is especially abundant in sandy and gravelly soils, and in chalk and limestone districts, and avoids acid soils[4, 7].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to the Pyrenees, Greece and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Linaria vulgaris Yellow Toadflax, Butter and eggs
Linaria vulgaris Yellow Toadflax, Butter and eggs


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Linaria vulgaris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedgerow; East Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - cooked[7]. Use with caution, see the notes above on toxicity.


Medicinal Uses

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Antiphlogistic  Astringent  Cathartic  Detergent  Diuretic  Hepatic  Homeopathy  Ophthalmic  

Yellow toadflax has a long history of herbal use. It acts mainly on the liver and was once widely employed as a diuretic in the treatment of oedema[238]. It is little used now, but undoubtedly merits investigation[238]. The whole plant is antiphlogistic, astringent, cathartic, detergent, depurative, diuretic, hepatic, ophthalmic and purgative[4, 7, 9, 21]. It is gathered when just coming into flower and can be used fresh or dried[4, 238]. The plant is especially valued for its strongly laxative and diuretic activities[4]. It is employed internally in the treatment of oedema, jaundice, liver diseases, gall bladder complaints and skin problems[4, 222, 238]. Externally it is applied to haemorrhoids, skin eruptions, sores and malignant ulcers[238]. The plant should be used with caution. It should preferably only be prescribed by a qualified practitioner and should not be given to pregnant women[238]. Dosage is critical, the plant might be slightly toxic[21, 238]. The fresh plant, or an ointment made from the flowers, is applied to piles, skin eruptions etc[4, 222]. The juice of the plant, or the distilled water, is a good remedy for inflamed eyes and cleaning ulcerous sores[4]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[9]. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and cystitis[9].


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Other Uses

Dye  Insecticide

A yellow dye is obtained from the whole plant[7, 13]. It is obtained from the flowers according to other reports[4, 100]. A tea made from the plant has been used as an insecticide[222]. A good bee plant[24]. Dynamic accumulator.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest


Cultivation details

Succeeds in a moderately good well-drained soil[1]. Grows best in a neutral to alkaline soil[238]. It prefers a sunny position[111] but also succeeds in semi-shade[219]. A very drought resistant plant once established[200], it can be grown in a drystone wall[219]. Plants can spread fairly aggressively at the roots when they are in a suitable position[K]. They also often self-sow freely[238].


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Seed - sow early spring in situ. Division in April or the autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. This species can be divided successfully at almost any time in the growing season.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Castilleja linariaefoliaWyoming Indian PaintbrushPerennial0.6 -  LMHSNM12 
Linaria canadensisBlue ToadflaxAnnual/Biennial0.6 4-8  LMNDM01 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Joyce King   Wed May 7 01:08:09 2003

I would like to know where I can get seeds for this plant. I love it on slopes and rocky ground thanks

   Aug 10 2013 12:00AM

Seed collected yourself can be stored in the fridge and sown when the weather worms up. Germinates quickly.

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