Linaria vulgaris (Butter and Eggs)

Plant Info
Also known as: Yellow Toadflax
Family:Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:part shade, sun; fields, along roads
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Spike-like raceme 3 to 6 inches long of irregular yellow and orange flowers, each ¾ to 1 inch long. The upper lip of each flower is divided into 2 lobes, the lower lip into 3, with a long narrow spur hanging down at the base that holds nectar. The lips and spur are yellow; an orange palate projects from the center.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 2½ inches long and 1/8 to 1/6 inch wide with pointed tips and no leaf stalk. Attachment is alternate, but they can be tightly packed along the stem so may appear opposite or whorled. Leaves are toothless; leaves and stems are hairless.


Butter and Eggs is an invasive species which has spread to more than half the counties in Minnesota. It tends to grow in clumps and spreads vegetatively as well as by seed. Its main blooming season is early to mid summer, but it's not unusual to find some patches blooming in late spring or early fall. The flowers are very similar to Dalmatian Toadflax (L. dalmatica) but that species has broad leaves. Like several other species, Linaria has been moved from the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family to Plantaginaceae (Plantain).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in St. Paul.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Linda - Randolph (Dakota County)
on: 2009-07-27 15:06:40

I have been asking about this plant all year, until I came upon a website showing Yellow Toadflax, and have been investigating it ever since. We always had a rather nice lawn, until last year when it showed up. We regularly spray our lawn two or three times a year for weeds, and this has been our biggest headache!! It appears, with every passing year they spread. After reading the information on several websites, I understand why.

Posted by: kelly - north rochester
on: 2009-09-08 14:09:11

pretty weed. growing in a small area by a low shrub. still blooming.

Posted by: trudy
on: 2009-09-19 05:45:42

It looks quite lovely to me. Why try to kill it off?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2009-09-19 08:10:54

Yes, it is pretty, but it's also a non-native invasive species. It can be an aggressive breeder that crowds out native plants, and as another poster already mentioned, can be hard to kill off. Invasive species destroy food source and habitat for native insects, birds and wildlife. Encouraging their growth and spread is counter-productive.

Posted by: Mark - Oakdale Nature Preserve, Oakdale MN
on: 2010-06-19 17:06:23

Found in many parts of Oakdale Nature Preserve, mostly in recently disturbed areas. June 2010.

Posted by: CC - Burnsville, MN
on: 2011-09-08 01:00:31

Its in my yard. What was once a small patch, is spreading. I now also see it in a portion of my yard that is quite removed from the original patch. I've been trying to kill, remove or control it for a number of years, to no avail. I've resisted using 'Roundup' so far. Any ideas?

Posted by: Jerry - Fergus Falls Section 12 Buse Township
on: 2012-08-27 06:55:29

Found on the north side of building - What do you need to eradicate?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-08-27 08:09:15

According to the DNR weed-be-gone or any other dandelion type spray containing 2,4D should be effective. You can mow or hand pull it, too, though root fragments of sufficient size can resprout. Just be diligent with multiple treatments until the seed bank is depleted.

Posted by: Daniel - St.Paul
on: 2013-03-04 11:10:53

it is a very pretty flawer but i would not ever want it in my yard

Posted by: Jane - northwest Iowa
on: 2013-05-24 09:39:54

My husband found some out on a gravel road, dug it up with a spade & brought it home. We got so many compliments on it. It blooms all year. We want more. How can I get some?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-05-24 10:25:57

Jane, while we do appreciate that most flowers are beautiful, if you spent any time on the Minnesota Wildflowers web site you would see that we are native plant advocates and cannot condone gardening with species that we know readily escape cultivation into the wild, as butter and eggs does. We recommend you find a nice native species substitute instead.

Posted by: Gene - Evansville
on: 2013-09-30 17:05:33

Grows in the road ditch near us. I'll add it to my to-be-sprayed list.

Posted by: rick - Oakes,ND
on: 2013-10-27 13:32:40

Thank you for this info! Just saved some seed from this unknown plant in a ditch but now i know i don't want it anywhere near my restoration. Burn barrel material.Again, thanks.

Posted by: Laura - Dunkirk Lane in Plymouth (Hennepin County)
on: 2014-08-12 20:07:49

There is quite a bit growing along the roadside in my neighborhood.

Posted by: Chloe - Chaska
on: 2014-09-28 17:36:39

I saw this along highway 41 in downtown Chaska a couple years ago, my little brother picked them and we gave them to our Grandma. I ended up saving one and pressing it in a book and then added it to my field guide. I came along this sight recently while doing a school project and never realized that invasive species could be such a common sight, or that one could be living in my home town.

Posted by: Jana - Coon Rapids, MN @ Mississippi River
on: 2015-06-18 19:23:29

At Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. They were in the rocks that they put along side to prevent erosion. Pretty flower. Took me a bit to get to them but I got some nice pictures

Posted by: Donna - St Louis County
on: 2015-09-18 04:45:43

I think this so-called weed is very pretty regardless of it being known as invasive. Invasive weeds have their place in nature and this one has medicinal properties

Posted by: Joey - Winthrop, MN
on: 2015-11-02 07:30:00

Most of these so called noxious and invasive species are pollen and nectar sources for butterflies, birds, and honeybees. The road ditch is sprayed to kill anything that blooms. This is one reason why beekeepers are having so much trouble.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-11-02 08:10:12

Development and agriculture have wiped out most of the native roadside vegetation, allowing weeds to move in. Restoring native plants in these areas would be infinitely preferable to letting the weeds run wild. I don't care so much what happens to European honeybees, but much more what happens to our native insects, many of which are specialists and can't survive on the exotic plants that now infest MN roadsides.

Posted by: junior - st.paul
on: 2016-05-12 10:42:09

Hello my name is junior and i would like to know what you guys are doing to help prevent or stop this invasive species. If we were able to stop this species how much would it cost ? would it harm Minnesota in anyway ? does this species do anything to MN?

Posted by: Amy D
on: 2017-04-24 19:37:52

Isn't the plant family Scrophulariaceae?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-04-24 21:18:09

Amy, Linaria was moved to Plantaginaceae at APG III in 2009. USDA is always slow to update taxonomy.

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2018-01-29 21:53:51

This grows along Cass Cty Rd 77. For years I knew it was Butter and Eggs and thought it was native! Had not heard of Yellow Toadflax until now.

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