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Plantago major

Phonetic Spelling
plan-TA-go MAY-jor
Description

Plantago major, or Plantain, is an herbaceous, flowering, perennial species of Plantago. It grows in lawns and fields, along roadsides, and in other areas that have been disturbed by humans. Plantain does particularly well in compacted or disturbed soils and can survive repeated trampling. Native Americans called it "white man's footprint" because it appeared and thrived in disturbed areas around European settlements.  Its roots work to break up hardpan soil and can help stop erosion. Plaintain is wind-pollinated and each plant can produce 20,000 small oval-shaped orange to black bitter-tasting seeds. This is a common lawn weed that is able to resist mowing because of its low basal leaves.

Plantain is not related to the fruit called plantain, which is a type of banana.

Plantain is a highly nutritious wild edible, that is high in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. The young, tender leaves can be eaten raw, and the older, stringier leaves can be boiled in stews and eaten. The seeds are also edible. However, ingesting large quantities can cause a drop in blood pressure.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#perennial#weed#edible weed#weedy#herbaceous#edible garden#perennial weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#perennial#weed#edible weed#weedy#herbaceous#edible garden#perennial weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Plantago
    Species:
    major
    Family:
    Plantaginaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used to be highly esteemed medicinal herbs. Leaves were used to treat bites, stings, cuts, sore feet, and ailments of the eyes, tongue and mouth.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia, Europe and Central Asia
    Distribution:
    Eastern North America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts pollinators. Birds eat the seeds, which are high in oil. Seeds are included in birdseed mix.
    Edibility:
    The leaves of young plantain are used as a vegetable similar to spinach.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Perennial
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Dense
    Mounding
    Multi-stemmed
    Oval
    Prostrate
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b, 12a, 12b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Capsules are split across the middle into 2 equal segments containing 6-20 brown, glossy, ridged seeds. Seeds are edible by wildlife.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Radial
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Bracts
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers appear April to September and are inconspicuous greenish-brown with white to purple stamens. Narrow cylindrical, dense spike of greenish flowers clustered on spikes from the center of plant and seeds form all down the flower stem.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Rosette of broadly lance to egg-shaped leaves with an acute apex. Leaves are 2 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. Five to seven prominent, stringy, veins start at the base of the leaf and can be seen in the petiole if a leaf is pulled from the plant. The upper surface of each blade is medium green and glabrous to sparsely canescent. Lower surface is light green and finely pubescent along the veins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Smooth/Hairless
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Erect, flowering stems less than 12 inches tall, leafless, unbranched, terminate in a cluster of small inconspicuous flowers.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Salt
    Problems:
    Weedy