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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

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.

Posted by: Anna - Minneapolis
on: 2018-05-06 07:30:50

This is growing in my back yard. I thought it was a type of snapdragon at first and let it grow, which I now regret. It spreads like crazy and is nearly impossible to pull up 100%. Im trying to grow grass and native flowers but it keeps taking over before they get a chance. Looks like chemicals might be the only solution :(

Posted by: Gilbert W - Cook Cty
on: 2018-05-31 10:59:44

I have noticed a smell like coffee drifting from a little mound across the path near my garden. Could it be this "imprudent lawyer" indulging in coffee with butter and eggs? The whole invasive plants phobia seems to be driven by the Military and conjoint Ag Chemicals Industrial Complex. What a golden opportunity to profit from pesticide sales! But as Evelyn Hutchinson and fellow ecologists concluded more than 60 years ago, competitive exclusion most commonly if not always occurs where and when the "native" environment has been disturbed and changed drastically.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-05-31 11:22:25

Gilbert, I don't agree that the "invasive plants phobia" is driven by either the military or Ag chemical industry. Invasive species (plants or otherwise) are an environmental and ecological reality. In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (a treasure in your neck of the woods), non-native earthworms are already beginning to destroy the duff layer native plants depend on to thrive. Emerald ash borer will drastically change the make-up of our northern forests, which currently hold 900M ash trees.

As for plants, Buckthorn is making its way there now and will likely be a dominant species there in 50 years, along with other aggressive exotic species. Linarea vulgaris isn't the worst weed in MN, mostly confined to disturbed and degraded areas, but it still takes space that should belong to a native species. The majority of our native insects are plant specialists, meaning they require native plants to survive. Perhaps you aren't concerned about that, but we are.

Posted by: Brenda Pittman - West of Faribault, Rice county
on: 2018-06-25 12:20:44

Found in south road ditch on 195th St W. They do look a lot like snapdragons. Do garden centers introduce these non-native plants to gardeners?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-06-26 09:11:22

Brenda, many weeds and invasive species have been introduced by the garden trade, others (intentionally or not) by the agriculture industry.

Posted by: Marv S. - Rochester
on: 2018-06-30 17:23:02

Katy is right. Non native species may look pretty and they might rarely offer a morsel of food for an insect. But, being non native they hardly offer anything to our native insects and birds and crowd out vital native species that they need for survival. This is because of a term called convergent evolution which simply means that over hundreds or thousands of years the native plant and animal have been able utilize each other to survive. Please read "Bringing nature Home" by Doug Talimey. It is THE authoritative book on the subject. There are endless choices in native plants for all applications.

Posted by: Andrea Wendorff - Meeker county city of Litchfield
on: 2018-07-07 13:35:28

I noticed this in one of my flower pots a few year ago it has spread horribly. The pot is in a large garden so I'm always pulling it. It is a very interesting flower and plant but I have been trying to figure out where it came from and how it got there. Glad I came across this message board now I feel better pulling it and getting rid of it. I try and leave as many native plants for our pollinators and want sure on this one.

Posted by: Jennifer Lamb - Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area
on: 2018-07-21 10:19:37

Saw several patches in bloom on 20 July 2018 along the Prairie trail at Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area.

Posted by: Gilbert - Grand Marais
on: 2018-07-23 21:07:27

Some cats are long out of the bag... It is important to draw the line and re-establish native plants where possible. But tansy, Canadian thistle, lupines, dandelions, butter and eggs... are purslane and nettles native plants? Often, as Falstaff said to Hal, Discretion is the better part of valor. On a hillside near my garden when the sun is shining on them butter and eggs have a fine smell like coffee.

Posted by: Ernie
on: 2018-08-09 23:01:06

Native? Non Native? Season is too short this far north to worry about which is which. I am all about color, display and bringing on the bees and butterflies. If it attracts em plant em!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-08-10 08:10:58

Ernie, you actually do our native bees and butterflies a disservice by planting just anything. While the non-natives may serve generalist insects that feed on a variety of plants, you reduce food sources for the specialists who only feed on certain plants. That leads to their further demise. Isn't that sad?

Posted by: Sherrie Kahn - Apple Valley
on: 2018-08-12 22:32:14

It’s growing in one of my shrubs. I think I also saw it growing out of some bricks along McAndrews right across from the MN zoo...

Posted by: Sharon Adams - NORTH BRANCH
on: 2018-08-30 09:00:47

There are hundreds of these plants along the walking trail heading north in Stacy.

Posted by: Judy - around Little Falls
on: 2018-09-19 15:50:37

I'm willing to replace the plants that have sprung up in my yard with something that favors MN insects, however when I checked your listing of Sept flowering plants, I did not find any that mentioned it was preferred by anything. Question, why should I did it up when you aren't telling me which something is better?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-09-19 17:25:42

Judy, most late season native plants will be good for pollinators. That's what they fed on before the weeds arrived here. Pick some sunflowers, , asters or other natives that will bloom into October.

Posted by: Justin Wass
on: 2019-08-18 22:45:59

growing along Rock County 1 on the north side of the road about 4 and 1/2 miles east of US 75 in Rock County in Southwest MN.

Posted by: D L Beer - Bemidji
on: 2019-09-03 15:17:25

The flower and leaves have been used to make lotion or salve to treat bug bites and can be consumed in small amounts, think I will pass on that but am drying some of the flowers to add to my soap and will infuse some for salve. Have a pretty good size patch out in the field. is where I read that information.

Posted by: TC
on: 2020-09-06 01:42:59

Seen in Minneapolis (south) warehouse district. Small/young plants with fewer blooms than typical.

Posted by: EJA - Crow Wing County
on: 2021-04-27 12:01:52

I noticed that Sibley county is not one of the counties reported as having them. But I remember seeing them in Gibbon Minnesota back in the 1960s. My father transplanted some to his garden and spent the next five years trying to tear them back out again because they spread everywhere. I also have some on my property near Crosby minnesota. But so far they have not become a problem.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-04-27 13:04:17

EJA, it's not surprising that any particular weed, even a common one, has not been reported in a particular county. Lots of weeds are under-reported.

Posted by: Jim - Easy
on: 2021-06-20 17:57:17

I have toadflax on my land sandy soil, I have tried roundup , 24d and 50/50 bleach water, nothing has stopped this horrible weed and just keeps spreading about a 100 foot circle. What really works to kill this stuff!!!

Posted by: Bernie - NE Blue Earth County
on: 2021-07-21 20:30:29

In the road ditch on our township gravel road. Going to try Milestone Herbicide to see if I can keep it out of my two year old wet Meadow CRP. I will post results

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-22 07:30:50

Bernie, I would be careful with spraying your ditch. Milestone will also kill desirable plants.

Posted by: Jean - Elk River
on: 2021-09-13 20:27:57

I found several of these in the ditch on the NE outskirts of Elk River. It's a cute little flower. I brought it in to teach the biology students how to use this site to identify flowering plants. We'll also look at invasive species and their impact on wildlife.

Posted by: Spencer Ruff - Rochester
on: 2021-09-30 15:56:23

just saw three plants in my backyard woods. Will kill it today. I love this web site. I'm establishing 7 acres of native prairie on land near Preston MN in a former corn field.

Posted by: KS - Kelly Lake
on: 2023-05-28 20:05:58

Found in my backyard last year, but didn't notice it until after mowing.

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