Category: Invasive weeds

Butter and Eggs Anyone?

Butter And Eggs Wildflowers Make Me Smile. The Yellow And Orange Snapdragon Like Flowers Bring Back Rich Memories Of My Childhood; Gathering A Handful Of Flowers For My Mom, Decorating Mud Pies With My Sister And Friends, And Playing In A Field Abundant With These And Other Wildflowers. I Knew It Was A Plant That Bumblebees Loved But Little Did I Realize How Important This Pretty Little Flower Was At One Time.  So Important In Fact That Early Pioneers Who Came To North America In 1700S Couldn’t Leave Home Without It. Can You Just Imagine The Conversation Between Husband And Wife As They Were Packing Their Steamer Trunks For The Long Journey Across The Atlantic Ocean?

Husband, “Why Are You Packing These Old Weeds?

Wife, “I Can Do Without My Fancy Dresses But I Won’t Go Without The Butter And Eggs Plant.  It Makes The Best Skin Lotion, And The Petals Make The Prettiest Yellow For Dying My Wool. Plus, The Fly Poison I Make From It Will Bring Relief For Our Barn Animals. And Dear Husband, You Will Certainly Thank Me When You Are “Bound Up” And Come Looking For My Special Tonic!”

Now… How Can A Husband Argue With That?

Fast Forward 300 Years.

Butter And Eggs Or Toadflax Or Linaria Vugaris Has Fallen Out Of Favor And Finds Itself On The Noxious Invasive Weed List In 4 Provinces In Canada. This Plant Negatively Affects Biodiversity As It Is Virtually Indestructible And Cattle Who Are Foraging Will Refuse To Eat It Unless It Is In A Dried State.

Toadflax, A Member Of The Figwort Family Has A Deep Creeping Root System That Forms New Colonies Of Plants.  Because Their Roots Are So Deep, They Will Survive Mowing, Fires, Drought, Chemical Sprays And Even Hand Pulling. Since The 1960S Many European Insects Have Been Introduced To Keep The Toadflax In Check; A Defoliating Moth, Two Root Feeding Moths, A Shoot Boring Weevil, Three Fruit Feeding Beetles And A Root Feeding Weevil All Having Little Impact On The Toadflax.

And Don’t Get Me Started On How Many Of These Biological Control Experiments Have Gone Terribly Wrong!

The Good News Is Bees Enjoy Toadflax.  They Benefit From The Pollen, Rich Nectar And Lipids Deep Inside. In Areas Where This Plant Is Permitted To Grow And Flower, Toadflax Can Provide Nourishment For Bees From May Until October.

Kind Of Makes You Wonder If Toadflax Is A Good Source Of Food For Bees, Why We Are Trying To Get Rid Of It?

Perhaps toadflax really is more important than we think.

Wanted: Creeping Bellflower

Creeping bellflower Campanula rapunculoides

Our city has declared war on a simple little plant called the Creeping Bell Flower.  I’ve seen wanted posters illustrating this criminal and city workers searching for this public offender.!  Listed as a noxious weed, this pretty little purple bellflower is hiding behind fences and in fields in our neighbourhood. When I researched why such a beautiful weed is listed as noxious the only reason was “ This plant’s thick creeping roots can travel under fences, lawns and concrete, making it very difficult to control.” Learning this, I find myself in a quandary… I know where they are hiding  Should I tell someone?


More research shows the bellflower attracts pollinators and is an edible herb.  Its calcium rich leaves can be served in salads and the stems can be sautéed and and served as a side dish.

This nitrogen rich plant can also benefit other plants by releasing nitrogen into the soil upon decomposing.


Plants for a Future says “Leaves and young shoots – raw or cooked. Rich in vitamin C. A pleasant mild flavour. Root – raw or cooked. A nut-like flavour, very palatable. The young roots are best. Somewhat sweet, they are a pleasant addition to the salad bowl.”


A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America by Lee Allen Peterson says this about this plant “The slender runners send down fleshy underground branches which can be chopped and added to salads or boiled for 20 minutes. The taste is slightly sweet, suggesting parsnips. Late Summer-Fall”.



So let me think…  we have a beautiful plant that survives drought, is beneficial to pollinators, other plants and is edible from roots to flowers.  Will I tell our city workers so they can spray it with herbicide?


Don’t worry Mr. Bellflower, your secret is safe with me…. until I’m ready to harvest you!!!

Painting by Trish McIsaac
Painting by Trish McIsaac