BASTARD TOADFLAX

Thesium humifusum

Bastard-toadflax Family [Santalaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8white
flower
flower8green
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8square
stem
stem8angular
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
rarity
rarityZscarce

13th July 2008, Brading Down, Sandown Bay, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
It is a slender amd prostrate plant up to 20cm long but usually low and hidden amidst the grass.


13th July 2008, Brading Down, Sandown Bay, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Spotting it is not easy. Stems sometimes square, othertimes angular or even round.


13th July 2008, Brading Down, Sandown Bay, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
The stems are sometimes square or angular. The flowers elongates to 4mm when in fruit - top right, just below an open flower. [Leaves of Wild Thyme are also in the photo - the reddish one, with green ones beneath it]


1st June 2008, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
Flowers in a sparsely-populated spike. This plant is shy about flowering, but bashfull here.


1st June 2008, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The flowers are white with a yellowish-green inner, and yellowish-green on the outside including part of the petals (lowest flower). Stems and stem leaves yellowish-green too. Stem leaves short and linear. Just beneath each sepal tube are leaf-like 3 bracts, two opposite and a longer third one at right-angles to those two.


1st June 2008, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
Flowers re about 2-3mm across cradled within a trumpet-shaped sepal tube. Un-opened buds at top.


1st June 2008, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The flowers bracts are just beneath the flowers on their stalk and in the shape of a 'T'. Five stamens with cream-coloured anthers. A central white style in the centre has a discoidal stigma. [The square and long-hairy stem in the foreground with long hairs does not belong to this plant].


1st June 2008, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The five white petals are joined and seem to be directly attached to the yellowish-green sepal tube.


1st June 2008, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
Each petal has a little projection or perhaps tooth each side near the sepal tube.


Not to be semantically confused with : Balm (Bastard) (Melittis melissophyllum), Bastard Agrimony (Aremonia agrimonioides), Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) or Tall Ramping-fumitory (Fumaria bastardii), [plants with similar names belonging to differing families]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Flower () [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

It is a fairly rare [RR] and grows natively in short turf on chalk or limestone soils mainly in the far South of England and very local in north to south Lincolnshire, East Gloucestershire, Jersey and Alderney.

It has roots which are  Hemi-parasitic on various herbs. It is only hemi-parasitic because it can actually feed itself too: it has green leaves which will photosynthesise, albeit they are quite short and narrow.

Despite the name, this is not a Toadflax; it belongs in the same Santalaceae family as does Mistletoe and Sandalwoods, which are both hemi-parasitic on other plants..

Bastard-toadflax contains the pyrollizidine alkaloid 1-HydroxyMethyl Pyrrolizidine which is one of the toxic pyrrolizidines, not all are toxic. This pyrrolizidine alkaloid has 4 stereoisomers, depending upon the stereo-positions of the two groups: -H and -CH2OH. The four are (-)-IsoRetroNecanol, (+)IsoRetroNecanol (aka Lindelofidine), (-)-TracelAnthemidine and (+)-TracelAnthemidine (aka Laburnine). It is not known which of these four stereoisomers are actually in Bastard-toadflax.


  Thesium humifusum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Santalaceae  

Distribution
 family8Bastard-toadflax family8Santalaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Thesium
Thesium
(Bastard-Toadflax)

BASTARD TOADFLAX

Thesium humifusum

Bastard-toadflax Family [Santalaceae]