Antirrhinum majus, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Antirrhinum majus L.
* Species Plantarum 2:617. 1753
Antirrhinum majus (Common Snapdragon; often – especially in horticulture – simply "snapdragon") is a species of plants belonging to the genus Antirrhinum. It is native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern France, and east to Turkey and Syria. The common name "snapdragon", originates from the flowers reaction to having their throats squeezed, which causes the "mouth" of the flower to snap open. Antirrhinum majus literally means "like a rhino's snout" in Ancient Greek.
It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 0.5-1 m tall, rarely up to 2 m. The leaves are spirally arranged, broadly lanceolate, 1-7 cm long and 2-2.5 cm broad. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, each flower is 3.5-4.5 cm long, zygomorphic, with two 'lips' closing the corolla tube; wild plants have pink to purple flowers, often with yellow lips. The fruit is an ovoid capsule 10-14 mm diameter, containing numerous small seeds. The plants are pollinated by bumblebees, and the flowers close over the insects when they enter and deposit pollen on their bodies.
There are five subspecies:
* Antirrhinum majus subsp. majus. Southern France, northeast Spain.
The species is often planted in gardens for its flowers. Although perennial, it is often treated as an annual plant, particularly in colder areas where they may not survive the winter. Numerous cultivars are available, including plants with lavender, orange, pink, yellow, or white flowers, and also plants with peloric flowers, where the normal flowering spike is topped with a single large, symmetrical flower.
It often escapes from cultivation, and naturalised populations occur widely in Europe north of the native range, and elsewhere in temperate regions of the world.
In the laboratory it is a model organism, for example containing the gene DEFICIENS which provides the letter "D" in the acronym MADS-box for a family of genes which are important in plant development.
1. ^ Tank, David C. et al. (2006). "Review of the systematics of Scrophulariaceae s.l. and their current disposition". Australian Systematic Botany 19 (4): 289–307. doi:10.1071/SB05009.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License