Pelisser’s Toadflax (Linaria pelisseriana), a slender purple-flowering member of Plantaginaceae originating in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Pelisser’s Toadflax was first recorded growing freely in Australia in 1892 near Murchison on the Goulburn River. By the federation period, it had established along both sides of the Murray near Albury.
One writer, bemoaning new reports of plants introduced through imported feed from California in 1915-1916, named Pelisser’s Toadflax among a number of species which had afflicted the state in the years prior to those latest introductions. ‘We have robber pests enough already, without allowing others to get a hold. If proper individual supervision had been shown at the outset a loss of scores of thousands of pounds sterling annually would have been prevented in Victoria alone.’
Of course, the moral notion that the state’s noxious weeds stemmed from individual failures, and not the colonial endeavour wholesale, was and is wholly inadequate to comprehend what took place and the gamut and density of weeds that afflict this country today.
The first records of Pelisser’s Toadflax within metropolitan Melbourne date to collections made at Warrandyte in 1951; this is also where the plants in this post were photographed this spring. In 1970 the plant was recorded at the Werribee Sewerage Farm, and it has since been found in scattered positions across the urban area. Among the most interesting records are collections made by the NHV’s V Stajsic from an infestation in railway ballast on the lines between North Melbourne and Southern Cross stations.