Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

The Curious Phototropic Journey of the Ivy-Leaved Toadflax

Keep an eye out for this marvellous plant on walls near you.

The ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis) is beautiful and intriguing.

It grows towards the light at this time of year, then later, when fertilised it grows away from the light.

There are good evolutionary reasons for this. Before fertilisation, this toadflax like all other insect-pollinated flowers wants to advertise its wares. It grows towards the light in order to give itself the best chance of being seen by the bees and therefore achieving pollination.

Once fertilised, its aims change, it needs to find a crevice for its seed and so grows away from the light and back towards the wild rocks or town walls.

In botanical terms it displays positive and then negative phototropism. Photo – light, tropism – growth.

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