Cymbalaria muralis – Ivy Leaved Toadflax

Cymbalaria muralis is commonly known as Ivy Leaved Toadflax but has many names, my favorites being Mother of Thousands and Devil’s Ribbon for they are particularly descriptive of this wolf in the guise of a lamb.  It is another great invader, originally from Italy it first arrived in this country in the mid 17th century, initially at the Chelsea Physic Garden. It escaped from gardens and is naturalised in this country as well as most of Europe.  It is still sold as an ornamental, both the original species and cultivars, but we have plenty for everybody.  Cymbalaria is derived from the greek word Kymbalon meaning “cymbal”, referring to the shape of the leaves and muralis meaning “growing on walls”. As walls are a prominent feature of our garden, it is Toadflax heaven and rampages throughout.  It is not all plain sailing as it has fierce adversaries in the form of both Bosswoman and Hero who will happily spend many an hour carefully teasing out the roots from the crevasses between the stones.  The evergreen leaves are lobbed and held on red stems, these stems can grow to 90cm and quickly colonise not only their eponymous walls but straggle and tangle through absolutely anything.  The flowers are admittedly very pretty; delicate snapdragon like blooms which are lilac and white with a yellow central marking.  They are, however, not just a pretty face.  Once pollinated they exhibit negative phototrophism, this means that instead of growing towards the light they actively move away from it.  This ensures that the fruit are carefully deposited deep into any nook and cranny available, keeping Bosswoman and Hero in work and out of trouble.



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3 responses to “Cymbalaria muralis – Ivy Leaved Toadflax

  1. mum

    Much better than the last blog. It is a much clearer picture although if I had to choose I prefer the very first one still no doubt I wil get used to it.

  2. Bosswoman

    Well, it’s clear which versions appeal to the elderly female aficionado. However, it’s your blog and your choice.

  3. hero

    one of my favourite jobs!! so relaxing..glad theres plenty so bosswoman and i have enough each to do.

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