Vail weeds: Attack of the escaped perennial |

Vail weeds: Attack of the escaped perennial

Gregg Barrie
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyToadflax, which blooms in the Vail Valley, spreads by an extensive root system as well as by seed.

VAIL, Colorado – Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) is an escaped garden perennial, once sold under the trade name “Butter and Eggs.” It’s also currently in bloom around Colorado’s Vail Valley. The plant’s highly invasive manner is devastating native ecosystems and is very difficult to control. This plant is targeted by Eagle County’s municipal and county noxious weed management programs.


• Produces an attractive yellow snapdragon-like flower with a deep orange center in late summer.

• The single stems grow 1 to 2 feet tall with alternate linear leaves that are blue-green or green.

• Forms dense colonies with an extensive root system that steals water and nutrients from native plants.

• Contains a poisonous glycoside that is harmful to livestock and wildlife.

• Can inhabit roadsides, meadows, pastures and enjoys sun or shade, and tolerates hot, dry conditions.


• Several factors make this plant extremely difficult to control. The extensive root system has small “hairs,” that, if left in the soil, can produce new plants.

• There has been some effectiveness with hand pulling, but you must be persistent and consistent, keeping in mind that it will take years of pulling to deplete the root system of energy. But it is better than allowing the plant to continue to spread.

• The most effective way to control Yellow Toadflax is with an approved herbicide. When using herbicides always read and follow the label. Contacting a licensed applicator is the best option for controlling this plant.

• A waxy layer on the plant reduces the effectiveness of early herbicide application. However, applying herbicide after the first frost will increase the likelihood of killing the plant.

• Maintaining healthy native plant communities is the best way to prevent the establishment of any weed. Yellow toadflax can quickly invade disturbed areas so proper revegetation is critical to controlling this plant as well as other noxious weed species.


• The native golden banner is a spring bloomer that is great in larger areas. Black-eyed Susan, Snapdragons, yellow columbine and native sunflowers make good substitutes. Really, anything is better than this plant.

For more information on these plants and the Weed Management Programs in Eagle County visit or Or call the Eagle County Weed and Pest Department, 970-328-3540, the Town of Vail Department of Public Works 970-479-2158, or the Eagle County Extension Office 970-328-8630.

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