Plantain

Plantago spp. L.

Plantaginaceae (Plantain family)


Description

Thirteen species of plantain are recognized in Texas. Most are native, cool-season annuals, but three species are perennials and two are introduced. The introduced species are common plantain and buckhorn, or English plantain. The most common plantains are redseed plantain, cedar or Heller plantain, and Hooker plantain.

Plantains are erect and stemless -all the leaves originate from a crown at the base of the plant. As winter annuals, the leaves lie flat on the ground in a rosette before spring growth.

The leaves of redseed plantain (Plantago rhodosperma Dcne.) vary from 1/3 inch to 2 inches wide. The leaves are pubescent, or lightly hairy, and the leaf margins can be toothed or narrow and elongated.

Cedar or Heller plantain (Plantago hellerii Small) is shorter than redseed but more villous, or very hairy, with narrow leaves. Hooker plantain is usually hairless or woolly. The leaves are narrow but can be of various lengths, depending on the growing conditions.

The flowering stems of plantains have spreading hairs, and the flowers have four parts. The fruit is a capsule with one to a few seeds.

Cool-season plantains can be of excellent forage value forlivestock and wildlife in periods after drought.


Habitat

Plantains are found on various disturbed soils of pastures, roadsides, parks, lawns and vacated areas.


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