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Maltese Toadflax

Linaria pseudolaxiflora  Lojacono  (Fam: PLANTAGINACEAE.)

Published date of profile: Mar-2006.
Citation: Mifsud S., (Mar-2006) Linaria pseudolaxiflora on MaltaWildPlants.com

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Species name :

Linaria pseudolaxiflora  Lojacono

Synonyms :

Basionym or principal synonyms: No Main Synonyms
Full list of synonyms: [ PlantList ]   [ IPNI ]   [ Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Plantaginaceae  Juss.
(Plantain Family)

Common name(s) :

Maltese Toadflax

Maltese name(s) :

Papoċċi ta' Malta, Xetbet l-Art Maltija

Status for Malta :

Sub-Endemic. Found only on the Maltese islands and neighbouring islands or territories


Very Common     Common     Frequent     Scarce     Rare     Very rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer life form: THEROPHYTE (Annuals)   
Germination: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Protected by law (schedule III of legal notice LN311/2006) and cannot be picked or harmed

Red List (1989) :

This species has a threatened status and is listed in the Flora section of the National Red Data Book (Lanfranco, 1989)

Flowering Time :


Habitat :

Rocky and stony arid places such as garigues, cliffs and walls.

Plant description and characters

Life Cycle:


Growth Form:



Rocky and stony arid places such as garigues, cliffs and walls.



Localities in Malta:

Recently observed at Wied Znuber. Reported to be found at Qrendi (Wied Hoxt), Delimara, Bingemma, Selmun amongst other localities. Also found on Gozo, Comino and Cominotto.

Plant Height:

Trailing stems can be between 5 and 20cm long.

Flowering Period:


Protection in Malta:

Protected by law (schedule III of legal notice LN311/2006) and cannot be picked or harmed

Red List 1989:

This species has a threatened status and is listed in the Flora section of the National Red Data Book (Lanfranco, 1989)


Unlikely to be poisonous.

The annual plant forms few to numerous basal branches which while growing, they remain lying on the ground. The terminal part of the branched stems (=the flower bearing part) tends to rise up and off the ground by few centimetres. The length of the trailing stems varies between 5cm to 20cm, but usually it is around 10cm. The branched stems do not branch again along their length.

Each branch forms whorls of 3 identical leaflets. These become individual and alternate at the terminal part of the stem. Each leaflet is sessile, glabrous and have an entire outline. They are very small, measuring about 5-8 mm long, with the younger leaves being even smaller. Their shape is ovoid with a fairly sharp-angled tip.

Flowers are borne in loose racemes; sometimes only one apical flower, or else up to 5 flowers. The flowers are typical snapdragon-like in shape, which consists of two lips resting on each other and join to form a long closed tube (known as the spur) at the other end. The upper lip has 2 pale-violet erect lobes (about 5mm long); the lower lip have three much shorter white lobes. Most of remaining corolla is glabrous and white or have a hint of violet-blue. The palate has fine hairs and decorated by a central, bright yellow patch, more precisely where the two lips touch. The corolla measures 15-18mm of which the spur is between 9-12mm. The spur is slightly curved up. The flower possesses 5, tiny (2-4mm long), free, narrow sepals of unequal length with the middle one being the longest.

The 4 didynamous stamens are included in the corolla tube and lie inside, between the lips. They are arranged in 2 pairs, running parallel to each other and one pair being shorter from the other by 1mm. The anthers are yellow. The style is, white, very thin and somewhere hidden between the stamens.

The fruit is a green spherical structure measuring about 5mm in diameter and found embraced by the 5 sepals. It often shows 6 to 8 dark-green radial stripes. The corolla and anthers drop but the curved style persists during fruiting. When ripe, the fruit splits open longitudinally and releases the tiny seeds stored inside. These are black, kidney-shaped structures with a wrinkled seed-coat and less than 1mm in length. Seeds are formed around May-June and germinate the following October-November.

Information, uses and other details

Distribution and Protection

This plant is a sub-endemic species, which means it is confined to two or few sites coming from different neighbouring countries or islands. The Maltese Toadflax is mostly found on the Maltese islands, but it is also present in Linosa, one of the Pelagian islands in the Mediterranean. {WWW-137, WWW-160, WWW-161] The islands of Lampedusa and Linosa, together with the desert rock called Lampione, forms the Pelagian archipelago. They are some 200 km south of Sicily and are geographically speaking part of Africa.

Apart from the Maltese islands and Linosa, this plant is not found anywhere else in the world. For this reason and since of the fact that it is a scarce plant, one should never destroy, cut or harm this species. As a matter of fact, this species is protected by Maltese Protection act (LN257 / 2003). Furthermore, the species is listed in Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Conservation of Bern)

Personal Observations

General notes
The annual plant was found growing in a sunny position on shallow soil over a rocky ground with many stones. Probably this is the preferred habitat of the plant. It was found growing with other prostrate Trifolium spp. plants or very small Euphorbias. Carpeting plants like Oxalis pes-caprae, or high shrubs were not present. These would disadvantage severely the sub endemic plant due to competition for sun and soil nutrients. The plant propagate only by seeds. The fruit forms not more than 80-100 seeds in a small fruit capsule that when ripe it opens and drops the seeds to the ground. No special seed dispersion mechanism. For this reason plants are found in rather dense patches rather than distributed over a large area. The destruction of a patch of plant such as for agriculture, bird hunting, poisoning, etc would probably mean the destruction of the species in that particular site.

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