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Scrophulariaceae
Plants of the Figwort or Snapdragon Family

      If you have ever seen a garden snapdragon, then you know the Figwort family. I used to play with them as a kid, squeezing the sides of the blossoms to make the "mouth" open and close.

      The flowers are bisexual and mostly irregular. There are 4 or 5 sepals, at least partially united. There are 4 or 5 petals united as a tube, usually 2-lipped with 2 lobes above and 3 lobes below. There are usually 4 stamens in 2 pairs, but a fifth stamen is present in some. The ovary is positioned superior and consists of 2 united carpels (bicarpellate) with the partition walls present, forming 2 chambers. It matures as a capsule containing many seeds, or sometimes as a berry.

      When you have identified a plant as a member of the figwort family, you can continue by reading the descriptions of the three subfamilies to find out to which group your specimen belongs. Worldwide, there are about 220 genera, representing some 3,000 species. About 40 genera are found in North America. The snapdragon belongs to the genus Antirrhinum.

Key Words: Irregular flowers with 3 lobes down and 2 lobes up. Capsules with numerous seeds.

Subfamilies of the Snapdragon Family
Figwort Subfamily | Rattleweed Subfamily | Mullein Subfamily |

Please e-mail Thomas J. Elpel to report mistakes or to inquire about purchasing high resolution photos of these plants.


Figwort Subfamily

Linaria vulgaris. Butter-and-Eggs Toadflax. Hell's Canyon. Near Silver Star, Montana. Butter-and-eggs toadflax has escaped cultivation to become a semi-invasive weed.

Linaria vulgaris. Butter-and-Eggs Toadflax.

Linaria dalmatica. Dalmation Toadflax. Red Rocks Park. Colorado.

Linaria dalmatica. Dalmation Toadflax. Missoula, Montana. Dalmation toadflax has escaped cultivation to become an invasive weed.

Mimulus guttatus. Yellow Monkey Flower.

Mimulus guttatus. Yellow Monkey Flower.

Mimulus lewisii. Pink Monkey Flower.

Mimulus lewisii. Pink Monkey Flower.

Collinsia parviflora. Blue-Eyed Mary.

Collinsia parviflora. Blue-Eyed Mary.

Penstemon eriantherus. Fuzzy-Tongue Penstemon.

Penstemon eriantherus. Fuzzy-Tongue Penstemon.

Penstemon montanus. Alpine Penstemon. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Penstemon nitidus. Wax-Leaved Penstemon. Ruby Range. Near Alder, Montana.

Penstemon procerus. Slender Blue Penstemon.

Penstemon procerus. Slender Blue Penstemon.

Penstemon utahensis. Utah Penstemon.

Penstemon utahensis. Utah Penstemon. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Utah.

Scrophularia californica. California Figwort.

Scrophularia californica. California Figwort.


Rattleweed Subfamily

Orthocarpus tenuifolius. Thin-Leaved Owl Clover. Castle Mountains, near the Smith River.

Orthocarpus tenuifolius. Thin-Leaved Owl Clover. Castle Mountains, near the Smith River.

Castilleja spp. Yellow Paintbrush. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Castilleja spp. Yellow Paintbrush. Tobacco Root Mountains. Pony, Montana.

Castilleja scabrida. Rough Indian Paintbrush. Escalante River. Utah.

Castilleja scabrida. Rough Indian Paintbrush. Escalante River. Utah.

Castilleja densiflora. Denseflower Indian Paintbrush.


Botany in a Day

Pedicularis bracteosa. Yellow Lousewort.

Pedicularis bracteosa. Yellow Lousewort.

Pedicularis groenlandica. Elephant Head Lousewort.

Pedicularis groenlandica. Elephant Head Lousewort.

Pedicularis contorta. Coiled Lousewort.

Pedicularis racemosa. Parrot's Beak Lousewort.

Besseya wyomingensis.Kittentail. An early spring flower in the Rockies.

Digitalis purpurea.Foxglove. Foxglove is an imported plant that has escaped cultivation in many places across North America. This one was photographed along the northern California coast.

Veronica americana. American speedwell.

Veronica americana. American speedwell.


Mullein Subfamily

Verbascum thapsus.Mullein.

Verbascum thapsus.Mullein. Hungry Horse Reservoir. Montana. Mullein is an introduced, sometimes invasive weed from Eurasia.

Verbascum virgatum.Wand Mullein.

Verbascum virgatum.Wand Mullein. Photographed in California.

There are more
Figwort Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.



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