Lesser Snapdragon (Misopates orontium)

Lesser Snapdragon (Misopates orontium), a minuscule Mediterranean annual naturalised across Europe and in similar climates around the world.

Reportedly a weed of English cornfields, Lesser Snapdragon may have been introduced as a seed contaminant rather than through use as an ornamental annual (it does not appear in early nursery catalogues in Victoria). The plant was recorded in South Australia as early as 1883, and in NSW and QLD in 1902 and 1908 respectively. Lesser Snapdragon is now well-established in those states, particularly along the western slopes of the highlands, and around Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane as urban centres. It is rarer in Victoria, although there is no obvious reason why that should be the case.

In Victoria, collections were made in 1913 and 1924 from a population seemingly established at Camberwell. The 1940s saw new populations recorded at Albury and Bendigo, with the latter said to have been situated on the banks of the Crusoe Reservoir. In the 1980s the species was collected in the St. Kilda Cemetery, growing improbably on the grave of Ferdinand von Mueller! It has since been recorded in Campbellfield, above the Merri Creek, and along the Hurstbridge railway at Rosanna.

In South and Port Melbourne, Lesser Snapdragon has been recorded along the former Port Melbourne Railway (now the route 109 tramway) since at least 2001. The photographed plants are established on rock ballast within the corridor, alongside the Southbank Tram Depot.

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Search for information about Misopates orontium in the Flora of Victoria

View information and occurrences of Misopates orontium on the Atlas of Living Australia

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