Thursday, August 17, 2006

Snapdragon, Toadflax and Butter & Eggs

It’s the 30th of Thermidor (the month whose name means hot) in the French Republican calendar and since the day ends in 0, instead of a plant, the calendar features a tool, in this case the Mill or Moulin. Where would we be without the mill, which for centuries has provided us with flour and the ability to make bread, pasta, even baby food?

But instead of mills, I’m featuring the plant associated with St Mamas, whose feast day this is, and whose flower, according to Pip Wilson is the snapdragon toadflax.

I don’t know much about St Mamas or why he would be associated with the snapdragon toadflax. He is a saint honored in the Byzantine culture who spent time in the wilderness. He is known as the Patron Saint of Animals according to this web site which also features a wonderful icon of him seated on a lion with a smaller white animal that looks like a unicorn in front of him:
Here are some more great pictures of him including the mystery animal:

I also found some wonderful pictures of the little wildflower: snapdragon toadflax at paghat’s marvelous garden site:
It’s called toadflax because it resembles a toad and flax. Its Latin name is linaria maroccana, linaria from the root word for flax and Maroccana because it’s native to Morocco. It’s a member of the Scrophulariaceae family.

Mrs. Grieve provides some information about a relative, Linaria vulgaris, also known as butter and eggs from her Modern Herbal (1931):
You can’t miss butter and eggs—they really do look like eggs scrambled with lots of butter. According to an article published by the University of Washington, yellow toadflax (linaria vulgaris) is a Class C noxious weed in our state and “a principal weed for control” in King County.
I think that means I should be able to find it on my walk to work tomorrow. I’ll let you know.

If you want to learn how to play the Yule game, snapdragon, you can read the article at my web site:
Or account published by Robert Chambers in his Book of Days (1869):

Illustration of a snapdragon from

Cool snapdragon pictures from the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin:

1 comment:

kerrdelune said...

I see these delightful little yellow flowers along the roadsides in Lanark, and I always think of scrambled eggs when I see them, but I never knew much about them, so this post is wonderful "stuff".