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Antirrhinum linaria Linn
Antirrhinum, refers to the snout-like form of the flower
Il nome del genere deriva dal greco”línon” = “lino” indica la somiglianza delle foglie della pianta, con quelle del lino.
Butter and eggs. Snap dragon. Ramsted. Toad flax. Yellow toad flax.
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Lamiidae / Tubiflorae; Scrophulariales; Scrophulariaceae - Snapdragon Family
Boericke: Mat. Med. with Repertory, 403.
Description of the substance
The Toadflax grows wild in most parts of Europe, on dry banks, by the wayside, in meadows by hedge sides, and upon the borders of fields. It is common throughout England and Wales, though less frequent in Ireland. In Scotland, it is found, as a rule, only in the southern counties. Having been introduced into North America, probably originally with grain, it has become there a troublesome weed. It is especially abundant in sandy and gravelly soil and in chalk and limestone districts.
---Description---From a perennial and creeping root, the Toadflax sends up severalslender stems, erect and not much branched, generally between 1 and 2 feet long, bearing numerous leaves, which are very long and narrow in form. Both stems and leaves are glaucous, i.e. of a pale bluish tint of green, and are quite destitute of hairs.
The stems terminate in rather dense spikes of showy yellow flowers, the corolla in general shape like that of the Snapdragon, but with a long spur, and with the lower lip orange. The Toadflax flowers throughout the summer, from late June to October.
The mouth of the flower is completely closed and never opens until a bee forces its entrance. The only visitors are the large bees - the humble-bee, honey-bee, and several wild bees - which are able to open the flower, and whose tongues are long enough to reach the nectar, which is so placed in the spur that only long-lipped insects can reach it. The closing of the swollen lower lip excludes beetles from the spur. When the bee alights on the orange palate, the colour of which is specially designed to attract the desired visitor, acting as a honey-guide, it falls a little, disclosing the interior of the flower, which forms a little cave, on the floor of which are two ridges of orange hairs, a track between them leading straight to the mouth of the long, hollow spur. Above this is the egg-shaped seed-vessel with the stamens. Between the bases of the two longer stamen filaments, nectar trickles down along a groove to the spur, from the base of the ovary where it is secreted. The bee pushes into the flower, its head fitting well into the cavity below the seed-vessel and thrusting its proboscis down the spur, sucks the nectar, its back being meanwhile well coated by the pollen from the stamens, which run along the roof, the stigma being between the short and long stamens. It is reckoned that a humble-bee can easily take the nectar from ten flowers in a minute, each time transferring pollen from a previous flower to the stigma of the one visited, and thus effecting cross-fertilization.
The Toadflax is very prolific. Its fruit is a little rounded, dry capsule, which when ripe, opens at its top by several valves, the many minute seeds being thrown out by the swaying of the stems. The seeds are flattened and lie in the centre of a circular wing, which, tiny as it is, helps to convey the seed some distance from the parent plant.
Sometimes a curiously-shaped Toadflax blossom will be found: instead of only one spur being produced, each of the five petals whose union builds up the toad-like corolla forms one, and the flower becomes of regular, though almost unrecognizable shape. This phenomenon is termed by botanists, 'peloria,' i.e. a monster. As a rule it is the terminal flower that is thus symmetrical in structure, but sometimes flowers of this type occur all down the spike.
The name Toadflax originated in the resemblance of the flower to little toads, there being also a resemblance between the mouth of the flower and the wide mouth of a toad. Coles says that the plant was called Toadflax, 'because Toads will sometimes shelter themselves amongst the branches of it.'
The general resemblance of the plant in early summer to a Flax plant, accounts for the latter part of its name, and also for another of its country names, 'Flaxweed.' The Latin name, Linaria, from linum (flax), was given it by Linnaeus, from this likeness to a flax plant before flowering. The mixture of light yellow and orange in the flowers has gained for it the provincial names of 'Butter and Eggs,' 'Eggs and Bacon,' etc.
'Linaria being a kind of Antyrrhinum, hath small, slender, blackish stalks, from which do grow many long, narrow leaves like flax. The floures be yellow with a spurre hanging at the same like unto a Larkesspurre, having a mouth like unto a frog's mouth, even such as is to be seene in the common Snapdragon; the whole plant so much resembleth Esula minor, that the one is hardly knowne from the other but by this olde verse: "Esula lactescit, sine lacte Linaria crescit."
' "Esula with milke doth flow,
Toadflax without milke doth grow." '
This Esula is one of the smaller spurge, Euphorbia esula, which before flowering so closely resembles Toadflax that care must be taken not to collect it in error, the milky juice contained in its stems (as in all the Spurges) will, however, at once reveal its identity.
The leaves of the Toadflax also contain an acrid, rather disagreeable, but not milky juice, which renders them distasteful to cattle, who leave them untouched. Among the many old local names given to this plant we find it called 'Gallwort,' on account of its bitterness, one old writer affirming that it received the name because an infusion of the leaves was used 'against the flowing of the gall in cattell.' The larvae of several moths feed on the plant, and several beetles are also found on it.
Antirrhinum is a genus of plants that used to be the family Scrophulariaceae, more commonly known as snapdragons from the flowers' fancied resemblance to the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth when properly squeezed (thus the 'snap'). Study of DNA sequences have led to the inclusion of Antirrhinum in a vastly enlarged family Plantaginaceae.
The taxonomy of this genus is disputed at present. At one extreme, ITIS recognises only the Old World species of sect. Antirrhinum in the genus, listing only the Garden Snapdragon A. majus (the only species in the section naturalised in North America). At the other, Thompson (1988) treated 36 species in the genus; many modern botanists accept this circumscription. New species also continue to be discovered (see e.g. Romo et al., 1995).
Recent research in the molecular systematics of this group, and related species, by Oyama and Baum (2004), has confirmed that the genus as described by Thompson is monophyletic, provided that one species (A. cyathiferum) is removed to a separate genus, and two others (previously listed as Mohavea confertiflora and M. breviflora) are included. The species list at the right follows these conclusions. It is widely agreed that this broad group should be subdivided into three or four subgroups, but the level at which this should be done, and exactly which species should be grouped together, remain unclear. Some authors continue to follow Thompson in using a large genus Antirrhinum, which is then divided into several sections; others treat Thompson's genus as a tribe or subtribe, and divide it into several genera
Caratteristiche: Pianta erbacea vivace con un rizoma sotterraneo da cui si dípartono numerosi stoloni, alti fino a 50-60 centimetri, normalmente semplici o talvolta ramificati solo in alto.
Le foglie sono sparse sul fusto; raramente sono verticillate a tre a tre, in special modo quelle inferiori; sono lineari o lanceolato-lineari, il margine è intero e l'apice lungamente acuminato; nella superficie inferiore è visibile una sola nervatura.
I fiori, disposti all'ascella delle foglie superiori, formano un lungo racemo; tutta l'infiorescenza è pelosa con ghiandole frammiste ai peli; il calice campanulato è glabro e diviso in cinque lobi acuti; la corolla è gialla, tubulare e prolungata posteriormente in un sottile sperone di forma conica; alla fauce è divisa in due labbra: il superiore è rivolto verso l'alto e
diviso in due lacinie, l'inferiore è trilobato e ingrossato alla base in una protuberanza arancione che chiude la fauce.
Il frutto è una capsula più lunga del calice persistente che a maturità si apre nella parte superiore; contiene numerosi semi neri formati da una parte ovoidale spesso coperta da piccoli tubercoli e circondata da una larga ala membranacea.
Habitat: Lungo le siepi e ai bordi delle strade
Proprietà farmaceutiche: Astringenti, antiinfiammatorie, antiemorroidali, diuretiche, lassative. (Droga usata: le sommità fiorite).