Linaria vulgaris (common toadflax)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Linaria vulgaris Miller
Preferred Common Name
- common toadflax
Other Scientific Names
- Antirrhinum commune Lam.
- Antirrhinum genistifolium Lapeyr.
- Antirrhinum glandulosum Lej.
- Antirrhinum linaria L.
- Antirrhinum linarioides L.
- Antirrhinum ochroleucum Salisb.
- Antirrhinum vulgaris L.
- Linaria vulgaris f. peloria (With.) Rouleau
- Linaria vulgaris var. communis Krylov
- Peloria linaria (L.) Raf.
International Common Names
- English: butter-and-eggs; common toadflax; toadflax; wild snapdragon; yellow toadflax
- Spanish: linaria comun; pajarita
- French: linaire commune; linaire vulgaire
Local Common Names
- China: liu chuan yu
- Czech Republic: hosoba-unran; inice obecná; sporrebloma
- Denmark: torskemund
- Finland: kannusruoho
- Germany: Flachskraut; Frauenflachs; Gemeines Leinkraut; Leinkraut; Löwenmaul
- Italy: linaiola; linajola; linaria volgare
- Jamaica: dead man bones
- Japan: hoso-ba un-ran; hosobaunran; seiyou un-ran
- Netherlands: vlasbekje; vlasleeuwebek
- Poland: linnete; lnica pospolita
- Russian Federation: l'nânka obyknovennaâ
- Slovakia: nevruzotu; pyštek obycajný
- Sweden: gulsporre
- USA: Jacob's ladder; ranstead
- LINVU (Linaria vulgaris)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
L. vulgaris is a perennial flowering plant with a spreading root system. It forms dense mats which can compete with crops and suppress native vegetation, reducing pasture productivity and/or biodiversity (ISSG, 2015). Native to temperate areas of Europe and Asia, it has been widely introduced to North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and is regarded as noxious in many of these countries. By inclusion in indexes of invasive species it is regarded as invasive widely in Canada and in the USA (Alberta Invasive Species Council, 2014; Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015). L. vulgaris received an invasive index of 69 (out of a maximum of 100) in Alaska, USA (ANHP, 2011). It is also regarded as invasive within its native range in Serbia (Dzigurski and Nikolic, 2014).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Scrophulariales
- Family: Scrophulariaceae
- Genus: Linaria
- Species: Linaria vulgaris
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
This species was named Antirrhinum linaria by Linnaeus, but was moved to the genus Linaria as L. vulgaris by Philip Miller in 1768, and that name has been universally accepted. The genus Linaria was previously included in the family Scrophulariaceae, and many sources still use that classification, but a series of genetic studies resulted in the disintegration of the old Scrophulariaceae. Apart from all the parasitic members of the family being transferred to the Orobanchaceae, Linaria - along with Antirrhinum and Scrophularia - were transferred to Plantaginaceae (Judd et al., 1999; 2002; Olmstead et al. 2001; APG, 2003). The genus has about 100 species.
Hybrids with L. repens (L. x sepium) can occur, and have been recorded in for example Newfoundland in the early 1900s (Zouhar, 2003). Zouhar also reported that hybrids with L. dalmatica had been created in the laboratory, and Ward et al. (2009) confirmed that L. dalmatica and L. vulgaris hybrids occur in the wild in Montana, USA, and are viable and fertile.
DescriptionTop of page
From Flora of China (2015):
Perennial, spreading by roots bearing adventitious buds, 20-80 cm tall, glabrous except for inflorescences. Stems erect, often apically branched. Leaves pale green, usually numerous and alternate, rarely basal ones whorled, rarely all in whorls of 4; leaf blade linear, 2-8 x 0.2-1.5 cm, veins 1(-3). Inflorescences racemose, flowers crowded, axis elongating in fruit; axis and pedicels glabrous to densely with short glandular hairs; bracts linear to narrowly lanceolate, longer than pedicel. Pedicel 2-8 mm. Calyx glabrous or inside sparsely glandular hairy; lobes lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate. Corolla yellow, 1-1.5 cm (excluding spur); spur 1-1.5 cm, slightly curved; lateral lower lip lobes ovate-orbicular, 3-4 mm wide, middle lobe ligular; upper lip longer than lower lip, lobes ca. 2 mm, ovate. Capsule ovoid-globose. Seeds 2 mm across, disc-like, margin broadly winged, centre verrucose when mature. Flowers from June to September.
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
L. vulgaris is native to temperate areas of Europe and Asia as far as China. It has been introduced to North America, where it has become naturalized throughout the USA and all but the northwestern territory of Canada. It has also become naturalized in Japan, South Africa, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Hulten (1968) listed it as occurring in Guatemala and Jamaica; however, GBIF (2015) has no records for these two countries and L. vulgaris is presumably not naturalized but only in cultivation there.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|-Hebei||Present||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015|
|-Jilin||Present||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015|
|-Liaoning||Present||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015|
|-Nei Menggu||Present||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015|
|Korea, Republic of||Present||Native||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015|
|Turkey||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||1892||GBIF, 2015|
|Canada||Widespread||Introduced||1820||Invasive||Holm et al., 1979; Alberta Invasive Plants Council, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Alberta||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Alberta Invasive Plants Council, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-British Columbia||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-New Brunswick||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Newfoundland and Labrador||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Nova Scotia||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015||Including Sable Island (Catling et al., 2009)|
|-Prince Edward Island||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Yukon Territory||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|USA||Widespread||Introduced||<1672||Invasive||Holm et al., 1979; Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Alaska||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-California||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Connecticut||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-District of Columbia||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Maine||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Michigan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-New Hampshire||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-New Jersey||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-New Mexico||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-North Carolina||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-North Dakota||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Oregon||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Rhode Island||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-South Carolina||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-South Dakota||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-West Virginia||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-Wisconsin||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015|
Central America and Caribbean
|Guatemala||Absent, unreliable record||Hulten, 1968|
|Jamaica||Absent, unreliable record||Hulten, 1968|
|Albania||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Austria||Present||Native||Holm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Belarus||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Belgium||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Bulgaria||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Czech Republic||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Denmark||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Finland||Present||Native||Holm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|France||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Germany||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Greece||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Hungary||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Ireland||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Italy||Present||Native||Holm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Moldova||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Netherlands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Norway||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Poland||Present||Native||Holm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Romania||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Russian Federation||Present||Native||Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|-Central Russia||Present||Native||Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015|
|-Eastern Siberia||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2015|
|-Northern Russia||Present||Native||Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015|
|-Russian Far East||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2015|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015|
|Serbia||Present||Native||Invasive||Dzigurski and Nikolic, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Spain||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Sweden||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Switzerland||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|UK||Present||Native||Holm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Ukraine||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2015|
|Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2003|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||1910||Holm et al., 1979; Atlas of Living Australia, 2015|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Atlas of Living Australia, 2015|
|-Tasmania||Present||Introduced||Atlas of Living Australia, 2015|
|-Victoria||Present||Introduced||Atlas of Living Australia, 2015|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||1904||Holm et al., 1979; GBIF, 2015|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
L. vulgaris has been widely spread as an ornamental plant. It was introduced to New England, USA, in the late 1600s as an ornamental and medicinal plant (Zouhar, 2003). Earliest collections recorded by GBIF (2015) include 1892 in South Africa, 1910 in Australia, 1926 in Japan, 1939 in Chile and 1978 in New Zealand.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Australia||1910||Yes||No||GBIF (2014); GBIF (2015)||First record|
|Canada||1820||Yes||No||Saner et al. (1995)|
|Chile||1939||Yes||No||GBIF (2014); GBIF (2015)||First record|
|Japan||1926||Yes||No||GBIF (2014); GBIF (2015)||First record|
|New Zealand||1904||Yes||No||New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (2015)|
|South Africa||1892||Yes||No||GBIF (2014); GBIF (2015)||First record|
|USA||UK||<1672||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Mitich (1993); Saner et al. (1995)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The risk of further introductions is significant but not high. L. vulgaris continues to be sold in nurseries and seed catalogues and could be imported as an ornamental or for medicinal purposes. There is a small chance it could be introduced as a contaminant of pasture or forage seeds, but this should be precluded by phytosanitary controls.
HabitatTop of page
L. vulgaris is a temperate species tolerating a wide range of habitats. In China, it occurs on mountain slopes, trail-sides, meadows, gravelly steppes and forests. In Finland, it was originally found on sea shores and rocks, but is now also found on road verges and other man-made habitats in the centre of the country (Hellström et al., 2006). In the USA, it is found in a wide variety of habitats, including cropland, pastures, rangeland, river banks, roadsides, railway lines and fallows, on a range of soil types (ISSG, 2015).
Sutton et al. (2007) found that L. vulgaris in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA, was most likely to invade open-canopy sites, along trails, and areas with higher species diversity plots (>23 species). In a similar study in Montana, USA, ridge populations of L. vulgaris were the most invasive, followed by those in valleys, and then forests (Lehnhoff et al., 2008).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Although L. vulgaris is most common in non-crop and pasture situations, it is recorded as a significant weed in a wide range of annual and perennial crops, including wheat, barley, oats, rapeseed, mustard, pea, strawberry, raspberry, lucerne, orchard crops and vines (McClay and De Clerck-Floate, 2001; De Clercke-Floate and McClay, 2013; Mason and Gillespie, 2013).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Avena sativa (oats)||Poaceae||Other|
|Fragaria vesca (wild strawberry)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Hordeum vulgare (barley)||Poaceae||Other|
|Medicago sativa (lucerne)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Pisum sativum (pea)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Potentilla pulcherrima||Rosaceae||Wild host|
|Rubus idaeus (raspberry)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Sinapis alba (white mustard)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Triticum aestivum (wheat)||Poaceae||Other|
|Vitis vinifera (grapevine)||Vitaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Vegetative growing stage
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Missouri Botanical Garden (2015) quoted a range of sources all giving a chromosome number of 2n = 12. However, Ward et al. (2008) confirmed considerable genetic diversity within populations of L. vulgaris in the USA. A naturally occurring mutant of L. vulgaris, originally described by Linnaeus, is characterized by the radial symmetry of the flower. This was shown by Theissen (2000) to be due to methylation of a single gene.
L. vulgaris is self-incompatible and requires cross-pollination by insects, particularly bumble bees, which are attracted by the nectar in the spurs of the flowers (PFAF, 2015). In the UK, Stout et al. (2000) observed the longer-tongued Bombus hortorum and B. pascuorum to be legitimate pollinators whereas short-tongued species (B. lapidarius, B. lucorum and B. terrestris) robbed nectar by cutting holes in the side of the spur. However, they concluded that nectar robbing had little effect on plant fecundity because legitimate foragers were present in the population, and seed predation and seed abortion after fertilization may be more important factors in limiting seed production in L. vulgaris. Other pollnators noted by Arnold (1982) in the USA include Halictus confusus, Dialictus tegularis and D. pilosus,
Seed production is relatively low and germination is also usually low (ISSG, 2015). Up to 100 seeds may form per capsule but viability may be no more than 25%.
It is usually stated that most spread is vegetative by means of the roots bearing adventitious buds. These are widely but wrongly referred to as rhizomes (underground shoot structures) (Hellström et al., 2006). L. vulgaris can establish from root fragments as short as 1 cm long. The root system may penetrate up to one metre deep and several metres laterally, but shoots mainly originate from the shallower roots at depths of 2-5 cm.
Physiology and Phenology
Seeds are dormant when shed and require stratification, with maximum germination achieved after 8-20 weeks of wet stratification at 5°C (Necajeva and Probert, 2011). Germination may also be encouraged by increased light and alternating temperatures.
Seedlings (genets) can produce daughter shoots (ramets) from vegetative root buds as early as three weeks after cotyledon appearance (Zouhar, 2003). A patch one metre across consisting of 100 shoots can develop from a single seedling in a year, and the diameter of the patch can increase by at least a metre in each subsequent year (Zouhar, 2003). Development from root fragments may be even faster.
After winter, growth begins when soil temperatures reach 5-10°C. Flowering occurs in mid-summer. Above-ground growth may die down over winter but the root system can survive substantial exposure to frost.
Seed stored at room temperature for 13 years had a germination rate of 67%. The root systems of L. vulgaris can persist for about four years (Zouhar, 2003).
In central Europe, L. vulgaris prefers dry to moderately humid sandy loam soils that are moderate to rich in nutrients and minerals. High soil fertility favours monocultures, but in the field extra fertility may result in greater competition from crops or other vegetation.
L. vulgaris is a temperate species thriving in a wide range of conditions and on a wide range of soil types, from sandy and gravelly soils to more fertile, mainly chalky soils, but is less successful on acid soils. It is commonly associated with relatively summer-moist, coarse soils in the northwestern and north-central USA. Native European soils apparently have strong suppressive potential, whereas this is not the case in soils from across the introduced range in the USA (Maron et al., 2014).
It is moderately tolerant of shade and of drought (PFAF, 2015). The shoots may be killed by frost, but the underground parts persist. Similarly, L. vulgaris may survive fire (Zouhar, 2003). Germination is significantly reduced at sodium chloride concentrations greater than 100 mM (Necajeva and Ievinsh, 2008). L. vulgaris can occur up to nearly 3,000 m elevation in parts of the USA (Zouhar, 2003)
L. vulgaris may exhibit heavy metal tolerance (Saner et al., 1995).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Tolerated||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||2|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-14|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||0||0||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Bimodal
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Brachypterolus pulicarius||Herbivore||Inflorescence||to genus||USA, Canada|
|Broad bean wilt virus||Pathogen||not specific|
|Cacyreus marshalli||Herbivore||not specific|
|Cucumber mosaic virus||Pathogen||not specific|
|Ditylenchus destructor||Parasite||not specific|
|Eteobalea serratella||Herbivore||Roots||to species||USA, Canada|
|Mecinus heydeni||Herbivore||Stems||to genus|
|Mecinus janthinus||Herbivore||Stems||to genus||USA, Canada|
|Phthorimaea operculella||Pathogen||not specific|
|Rhinusa antirrhini||Herbivore||Seeds||to genus||USA, Canada|
|Rhinusa linariae||Herbivore||Roots||to species||USA, Canada|
|Rhinusa neta||Herbivore||Seeds||to genus||USA, Canada|
|Rhinusa pilosa||Herbivore||Stems||to species||Canada|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Approximately 100 species of arthropods attacking L. vulgaris in Europe have been reported in the literature, a number of which appear to be host-specific to the tribe Antirrhinae (Saner et al., 1995). A number of these have been developed or have otherwise become important for biocontrol, as discussed under the Biological Control section.
Fungi that attack L. vulgaris include Peronospora corollae, P. flava and Entyloma linariae.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
The winged seeds can be dispersed by wind, though experiments suggest that most seeds still fall within a few metres of the parent plant (Zouhar, 2003). Seeds may also be dispersed by water.
The seeds have no particularly adhesive qualities but they may be dispersed in the guts of livestock, birds, rodents and ants (Zouhar, 2003).
Accidental introduction could occur via contaminated crop seeds, but there are few clear records of this. On a local basis there can be short-distance spread via contaminated cultivation equipment.
L. vulgaris continues to be sold in nurseries and seed catalogues and could be imported as an ornamental or for medicinal purposes.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
Economic ImpactTop of page
In Canada, L. vulgaris can have a negative impact in a range of field crops including wheat, barley, oats, rapeseed, mustard and pea (Mason and Gillespie, 2013). It has been described as the most troublesome perennial broad-leaved weed in Alberta, occurring in 20-30% of all crops, pastures and non-cropped land, and is becoming an increasing problem in several other provinces (Mason and Gillespie, 2013).
As an agricultural weed, L. vulgaris is favoured by reduced-tillage farming methods. It is resistant to many herbicides, and provides over-wintering sites for cucumber mosaic virus and broad bean wilt virus (Zouhar, 2003).
L. vulgaris is unpalatable and, although not significantly toxic either fresh or dried, is generally avoided by grazing cattle. The lack of grazing pressure thus allows it to build up and compete seriously with other plants in pasture. At populations of 180 stems/m2, it may reduce seed yields in forage crops such as creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra) by one-third, whereas yields in canola and wheat were reduced by 20% at infestation rates of 12 stems m2 and 74 stems m2, respectively (Saner et al., 1995)
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
Where sod-forming or bunchgrass communities are replaced by Linaria spp., soil erosion, surface runoff and sediment yield increase. However, on harsh, sparsely vegetated sites L. vulgaris can actually help stabilize soil (Zouhar, 2003). Zouhar (2003) concluded that L. vulgaris is unlikely to increase fire-risk but may be favoured by fire when competing vegetation is destroyed.
The Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States (2015) indicated that L. vulgaris is invasive in Glacier National Park (Montana), Harpers Ferry National Historical Parl (West Virginia), Rocky Mountains National Park (Colorado) and Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming).
Impact on Biodiversity
L. vulgaris can compete with native plants for soil water and suppress native grasses (ISSG, 2015). Wilke and Irwin (2010) showed that infestations of L. vulgaris in Colorado, USA, reduced the flowering of native plants including Potentilla pulcherrima.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Long lived
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Has high genetic variability
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
From Saner et al. (1995):
L. vulgaris ‘is used in folk medicine and in homeopathy. Historically, it has been used as an insecticide, for example in animal bedding, as a yellow dye, and as a plant of religious and magical attributes. It is considered useful for soil fixation and may be used to reclaim areas despoiled by mining or dumping of heavy metal-laden sewage sludge or of abandoned gravel pit slopes.’
L. vulgaris 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. It is little used now (PFAF, 2015).
From PFAF (2015):
‘The whole plant is antiphlogistic, astringent, cathartic, detergent, depurative, diuretic, hepatic, ophthalmic and purgative. It is gathered when just coming into flower and can be used fresh or dried. The plant is especially valued for its strongly laxative and diuretic activities. It is employed internally in the treatment of oedema, jaundice, liver diseases, gall bladder complaints and skin problems. Externally it is applied to haemorrhoids, skin eruptions, sores and malignant ulcers. 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. Dosage is critical, as the plant might be slightly toxic. The fresh plant, or an ointment made from the flowers, is applied to piles, skin eruptions etc. The juice of the plant, or the distilled water, is a good remedy for inflamed eyes and cleaning ulcerous sores. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant and it is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and cystitis.’
Vrchovská et al. (2008) confirmed that there were antioxidative properties in extracts of L. vulgaris.
A yellow dye is obtained from the whole plant or just from the flowers. A tea made from the plant has been used as an insecticide (PFAF, 2015).
Mitich (1993) indicated that it is still prescribed for its astringent, detergent and hepatic principles, mainly for jaundice, liver troubles and various skin diseases. Its active constituents are two glycosides, linarin and pectolinarian. Mitich (1993) also referred to its use as a yellow dye, a treatment for insect bites and, after boiling the plant in milk, its use to repel and kill insects.
L. vulgaris can be used for soil fixation. It can also be used to reclaim areas such as abandoned gravel pit slopes, areas despoiled by mining or by dumping of heavy metal-laden sewage sludge (Saner et al., 1995).
Uses ListTop of page
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
There are up to 100 other species of Linaria, but the most common one with which L. vulgaris could be confused is L. dalmatica (dalmation toadflax), also known as L. genistifolia. L. dalmatica differs in having black seeds, sharply angled and only slightly winged, and glaucous leaves, much broader, and ovate to heart-shaped.
Others species, such as L. purpureum, have mauve, pink or purple flowers rather than yellow, or are glabrous, or have broader leaves, shorter spurs, or are densely glandular-hairy.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Equipment should be checked for seeds and root pieces, and cleaned before moving it from infested to uninfested areas.
Livestock moving from infested areas to uninfested areas should be held in corrals or small pastures, for six days for cattle and 11 days for sheep, to allow any viable seeds to pass through the digestive tract.
Livestock holdings and areas where fill dirt has been imported should be monitored for L. vulgaris establishment.
Avoid buying seed or feed that could be contaminated with L. vulgairs seeds.
L. vulgaris is classified as a noxious weed or weed seed in many USA states, including Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (USDA-ARS, 2015), as well as several Canadian provinces (Zouhar, 2003).
Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures
Vigorous, healthy plant communities can often out-compete L. vulgaris seedlings and thus prevent their establishment. In areas where the weed is already established, any initial control needs to be followed by establishment of well-adapted, desirable plant species that will provide competition throughout the season at all levels of the soil-root profile. This can provide longer-term suppression. Proper grazing management to maintain the competitive ability of these plant communities is important for long-term control of L. vulgaris (Zouhar, 2003).
Seedlings can be readily destroyed by cultivation, but where plants already have an established root system, repeated cultivations will be needed over a period of 5-6 years to eradicate L. vulgaris. Saner et al. (1995) referred to successful control by means of intensive shallow cultivation, requiring at least 2 years, with 8-10 cultivations in the first year and 4-5 in the second year. Further control methods will be needed to prevent regeneration from seeds in the soil, perhaps for a further 10 or more years (Zouhar, 2003).
Mowing is unlikely to be effective, especially where competing vegetation is also removed in the process.
Zouhar (2003) reviewed the subject as follows: ‘Several insect species that feed on L. vulgaris have been purposely or accidentally released in the USA and Canada. The flower feeding beetle Brachypterolus pulicarius and seed-feeding Gymnetron antirrhini (= Rhinusa antirrhini) appear to be the most important insects for reducing seed production. B. pulicarius larvae develop inside floral ovaries, and adults feed on buds and young stems. B. pulicarius can reduce seed production by 80 to 90%. G. antirrhini can reduce seed production by 85-90%. McClay (1992) recorded a 74% reduction in seed viability due to infestation by Brachypterolus pulicarius; however, Mason and Gillespie (2013) stated that ‘B. pulicarius and G. antirrhini are already widespread in Canada but the impact is unknown. Egan and Irwin (2008) also obtained very variable results. There were reductions of seed and shoot production of L. vulgaris, but these were modest and minimal at high densities of the weed. Harris (1981), however, commented on a decline of the weed (in Canada) due to Brachypterolus pulicarius, Gymnetron antirrhinii and Calophasia lunula, and Quartes (2007) stated that seed weevils (such as G. antirrhini, have already led to the decline of L. vulgaris throughout Canada. The moth Calophasia lunula, a long-term accidental introduction to Canada, and two other insects, the moth Eteobalea serratella (approved for release in Canada in 1991) and the root-galling weevil Gymnetron linariae [Rhinusa linariae](approved for release in Canada in 1995) are referred to by McClay and De Clerck-Floate (2001), but were apparently not effective enough to deserve comment in later publications. Also, the seed capsule weevil R. neta appears to occur only in scattered populations in the eastern and western USA and Canada (Wilson et al., 2005).
Among other agents reviewed by Mason and Gillespie (2013), Mecinus janthinus has been released at numerous sites in Canada since 1996, but with mixed results, possibly because the closely related M. janthiniformis has sometimes been involved, which is more specific to L. dalmatica. Toševski et al. (2013) have now described a fast and accurate way of distinguishing the two Mecinus species haplotypes using PCR-RFLP diagnostic assay of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit II (COII) gene. At a site in Alberta where M. janthinus was released in 1996, observations in 2012 found that the population of L. vulgaris had declined to a very low density, with the few remaining stems heavily infested with M. janthinus (Mason and Gillespie, 2013). More recently studies have started on another stem-boring weevil, M. heydenii (Tosevski et al 2016).
More recently, the stem-galling weevil weevil Rhinusa pilosa has been approved for release in USA (Gassmann et al., 2014). Although not quite specific to L. vulgaris, it is considered to be a suitable biocontrol species due to its high host specificity, minimal risk to related species in North America, robustness during rearing, impact on host growth and reproduction through galling and expected population release from the effects of a European gall intruder, the inquiline weevil Rhinusa eversmanni (Mason and Gillespie, 2013).
The considerable genetic diversity in L. vulgaris (Ward et al., 2008) may help to explain its variable response to biocontrol organisms.
2,4-D, 2,4-DB, MCPA, MCPB, mecoprop and Triclopyr are virtually ineffective for L. vulgaris control (Zouhar, 2003), though a mix of 2,4-D plus dichlorprop has given useful control in barley (Saner et al., 1995).
A pre-harvest application of glyphosate reduced densities by over 80% the following year, resulting in a significant increase in crop yields of barley, canola and flax (McClay and De Clerck-Floate, 2001). Such an application may damage to other vegetation, though this may be avoided by rope-wick application (Miller et al., 1981).
Alternatively, picloram or chlorsulfuron can be applied at late flowering stage, though a repeat application may be needed (Beck, 2014). Metsulfuron and imazapic may be partially effective. Boatman and Bain (1992) reported useful control of L. vulgaris with fluroxypyr and quimerac.
Surfactants may improve results.
Integrated control of L. vulgaris could involve combinations of clean cultivation, pulling, mowing, burning, grazing, competitive planting and the use of biological control agents and herbicides (Quartes, 2007), and collaboration between neighbouring properties (McDermott et al., 2013).
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
13/12/2016 Updated by:
André Gassmann, CABI-CH, Switzerland
14/04/15 Original text by:
Chris Parker, Consultant, UK
Distribution MapsTop of page
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