Cymbalaria muralis

Cymbalaria muralis, commonly called ivy-leaved toadflax[3] or Kenilworth ivy,[4] is a low, spreading, viney plant with small purple flowers, native to southern Europe. It belongs to the plantain family (Plantaginaceae), and is introduced in North America, Australia, and elsewhere. The flower stalk is unusual for seeking light until it is fertilized, after which it grows away from the light. Other names include coliseum ivy,[4] Oxford ivy,[4] mother of thousands,[4] pennywort,[4] and wandering sailor.[4]

Cymbalaria muralis
Ivy-leaved Toadflax.JPG
Plant habit
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Cymbalaria
C. muralis
Binomial name
Cymbalaria muralis
Occurrence records from GBIF[1]
    • Antirrhinum acutangulum Ten.
    • Antirrhinum cimbalaria Neck. [Spelling variant]
    • Antirrhinum cymbalaria L.
    • Antirrhinum hederaceum Lam. nom. illeg.
    • Antirrhinum hederifolium Salisb. nom. illeg.
    • Antirrhinum quinquelobum Stokes
    • Cymbalaria cymbalaria (L.) Wettst. nom. inval.
    • Cymbalaria flabellifer A.Chev.
    • Cymbalaria gerbaultii A.Chev.
    • Cymbalaria glechomifolia A.Chev.
    • Cymbalaria globosa (Gerbault) A.Chev.
    • Cymbalaria hederacea Gray nom. illeg.
    • Cymbalaria toutoni A.Chev.
    • Cymbalaria vulgaris Raf.
    • Elatine cymbalaria Moench
    • Linaria cymbalaria (L.) Mill.

Description and habitatEdit

It spreads quickly, growing up to 5 cm (2.0 in) tall – it commonly grows in rock and wall crevices, and along footpaths. The leaves are evergreen, rounded to heart-shaped,2.5 to 5 cm (1.0 to 2.0 in) long and wide, 3–7-lobed, alternating on thin stems. The flowers are very small but distinctly spurred, similar in shape to snapdragon flowers.[5] Flowers from May to September.[6]


Epiphytic upon the trunk of a palm tree, Auckland, NZ

Cymbalaria muralis is native to Mediterranean climates in south and southwest Europe, the Southern Alps, eastern Yugoslavia, southern Italy and Sicily.[7][8] It has spread throughout the world as an invasive plant, including the United States,[9] the British Isles,[10] Australia[11][12][13] and New Zealand.[13][14]

It is said to have been introduced into England by accident when a shipment of sculptures was brought to Oxford. It was first introduced early in the 17th century and was widely planted in the UK up to the 19th century.[15]


This plant has an unusual method of propagation. The flower stalk is initially positively phototropic and moves towards the light. After fertilisation, it becomes negatively phototropic ("scototropic") and moves away from the light. This results in seed being pushed into dark crevices of rock walls, where it is more likely to germinate.[16]


  1. ^ (26 May 2018) GBIF Occurrence Download Cymbalaria muralis P.Gaertner, B.Meyer & Scherb.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  3. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Cymbalaria muralis". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  5. ^ David S. MacKenzie (2002). Perennial Ground Covers. Timber Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-88192-557-9.
  6. ^ Webb, D.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. An Irish Flora. Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest) Ltd. Dundalk/. ISBN 0-85221-131-7
  7. ^ Mariola Truchan; Zbigniew Sobisz (2006). "Distribution of Cymbalaria muralis P. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherz. in the central part of Polish Pomerania" (PDF). Biodiversity Research and Conservation. 1–2: 98–101.
  8. ^ Ewa Szczęśniak; Krzysztof Świerkosz (2003). "Cymbalaria muralis P. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Schreb. and Cymbalarietum muralis Görs 1966 in Lower Silesia – expansion or regression?". In A. Zając; M. Zając; B. Zemanek (eds.). Phytogeographical Problems of Synanthropic Plants. Jagiellonian University. pp. 185–193. ISBN 8391516148.
  9. ^ "Cymbalaria muralis". USDA Plants Profile. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  10. ^ A. R. Clapham; T. G. Tutin; E. F. Warburg (1968). Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-04656-4.
  11. ^ Florabase: "Cymbalaria muralis". Accessed 5 April 2018.
  12. ^ Barker, R.W. "Cymbalaria muralis". National Herbarium of NSW, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, Australia. Accessed 5 April 2018.
  13. ^ a b Australia's Virtual Herbarium: "Cymbalaria muralis". Accessed 5 April 2018.
  14. ^ Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R., Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988. "NZ Flora: Cymbalaria muralis". Flora of New Zealand Volume IV Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons, Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. Accessed 5 April 2018.
  15. ^ Mabey, R; Flora Britannica, London 1996, ISBN 9781856193771
  16. ^ James Watnell Hart (1990). Plant Tropisms and other Growth Movements. Springer. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-412-53080-7.

External linksEdit