If you are looking for an attractive plant to add to your backyard garden, butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris) is probably one you need to keep off your shopping list.
Butter-and-eggs has a number of interesting common names including toadflax, dragon bushes, calf’s snout and devil’s flax. I suspect that that the plant has so many names because is it ranges of such a large area.
Butter-and-eggs is native to much of Asia and Europe. In addition, it has been naturalized throughout both Canada and the United States.
I first became familiar with the plant when my wife pointed out a stunning wildflower she had found in a section of our yard that had recently been rescued from an invasion of wisteria, Japanese honeysuckle and greenbrier.
The plant was truly stunning. My wife thought that it was a snapdragon as its blooms looked very much like those that festoon cultivated snapdragons. As you can see from the accompanying picture. the blossoms are pale yellows and feature darker yellow or orange centers. Each bloom also displays a prominent spur. While our plant was short, typically toadflax displays its blooms on stalks that can reach three feet in height. The plant is primarily a summer bloomer.
After checking a couple of our wildflower books we learned that it was indeed a member of the snapdragon family. At first it seemed that toadflax was a plant that we wanted to nurture. However, further reading revealed that this beautiful plant is also highly invasive.
It seems that it spreads both by seeds and underground runners. As such, it can quickly crowd out native plants.
This is a shame as butter-and-eggs is both beautiful and a source of food for bumblebees, moths and other insects.
Since there are so many other less invasive plants that are a source of food for native pollinators and are attractive too, I know that we will be looking elsewhere for a new plant to add to our home landscape.