butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris)
bread and butter
dead men's bones
North American ramsted
Many of the common names used with Linaria vulgaris are also used with
other species of plants (e.g., Lotus corniculatus is also commonly called
butter-and-eggs and eggs-and-bacon).
Linaria linaria (L.) Karst.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of butter-and-
eggs is Linaria vulgaris Mill.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: A perennial herbaceous plant in the figwort family (Scrophulari-
aceae) growing to a height of 1 – 2 feet. Plants have multiple stems that
are smooth and grow in clumps from the rootstalks.
Leaves: The leaves are simple, alternate, entire, grey-green, lance shaped,
net-veined, pointed, 1 - 2.5 inches long, smooth and hairless.
Flowers: Flowers resemble snapdragons. Flowers are perfect, bright to
cream yellow with a dull orange center and occur in clusters of 15-20 on
each stem. A spur ca 1 cm long is located at the base of the petals. Butter-
and-eggs received its common name from the flower colors which resem-
ble egg yolks and butter. Flowers bloom from July to late September.
Fruit/Seeds: The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule with two locules and
many seeds. The seeds are winged, disk-shaped, dark brown to black
and viable in soil for up to eight years. A mature plant can produce up
to 30,000 seeds annually (July to October). Seeds are dispersed by wind
Roots: The root system is made up of horizontal roots and rhizomes. Plants reproduce by seeds or creeping rhizomes.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Butter-and-eggs is an aggressive peren-
nial that can reproduce by seeds or rhizomes. The aggressive nature of this
plant and its ability to form large colonies allows it to crowd out other veg-
etation. Once established, high seed production and ability to reproduce
vegetatively allow for rapid dispersal and high persistence. Its rhizomatous
habit makes the eradication of this species difficult.
HABITAT TYPES: Butter-and-eggs is a common invasive plant that
occurs in a wide variety of habitats such as roadsides, fields, waste areas,
railroad yards, rangeland, pastures, cultivated fields, meadows, forest
dges and gardens.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Butter-and-eggs prefers full sun, can
tolerate both dry and moist conditions, and a barren soil that is gravelly,
sandy or chalky. Under these conditions, this plant can spread ag-
gressively because of the reduced competition from taller plants with
wider leaves. A soil with a high pH is tolerated.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Seeds are dispersed by wind and water
from July to October.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Butter-and-eggs is originally from
southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Brought to the New World
in the late 1600's, it is now reported as occurring in every state in the
continential United States and nearly all of the Canadian provinces.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees,
which are strong enough to push past the palate to enter the throat of the
corolla. Other insect visitors of the flowers include other long-tongued
bees, butterflies, and skippers. The butterflies and skippers are not effec-
tive pollinators of the flowers, however. Several insect species have been
introduced to control the spread of butter-and-eggs. This includes Brach-
ypterolus pulicarius, a small black beetle that feeds on the tips of the
shoots; Gymnaetron antirrhini, a weevil that feeds on the seed capsules;
and Calophasia lunula, a moth with larvae that feed on the foliage and
flowers. The foliage is not a preferred source of food to mammalian
herbivores and is rarely eaten; it contains a glycoside that is mildly
toxic to cattle.
Despite its reputation as a weed, like the dandelion, this plant has also
been used in folk medicine for a variety of ailments. A tea made from
the leaves was taken as a laxative and strong diuretic as well as for
jaundice, dropsy, and enteritis with drowsiness. For skin diseases and
piles, either a leaf tea or an ointment made from the flowers was used.
In addition, a tea made in milk instead of water has been used as an
insecticide. It is confirmed to have diuretic and fever-reducing
While most commonly found as a weed, toadflax is sometimes cultivat-
ed for cut flowers, which are long-lasting in the vase.
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