More charmingly known as Butter-and-Eggs, the common name “Toadflax” applies to several similar species. All sport cheerful yellow flowers resembling snapdragons, to which they are related. Two-foot tall clumps of smooth green stems are covered with narrow, pointy leaves two and a half inches long. The flowers appear whenever growing conditions permit.
Originally imported from Eurasia as ornamentals, the plants quickly escaped cultivation and are featured on many wildflower posters. Unfortunately, Toadflaxes are now officially listed as noxious weeds. As such, it is illegal to grow them or sell their seeds.
You will quickly understand the “noxious” designation when you go to kill these persistent perennials. Seeds germinate in spring (I’ve already noticed sprouts appearing in my garden) and quickly grow into small plants with no flowers; most early growth is underground. Taproots penetrate three to ten feet deep while lateral roots sprout into new plants several yards away. By the time flowers finally appear, control is extremely difficult. Make sure to remove blossoms before seeds form. Try a combination of digging, spraying with an herbicide, and “frustration” (continually removing top growth until the roots give up). Victory may take years of unrelenting effort.
True snapdragons are a welcomed addition to any landscape. Just don’t be fooled by these imposters!