Ontario Weeds: Broad-leaved plantain

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. Related Links

Name: Broad-leaved plantain, Plantago major L.,

Other Names: Common plantain, Doorweed, Dooryard plantain, Plantain, Whiteman's foot, grand plantain, plantain majeur

Family: Plantain Family (Plantaginaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing only by seed. Plant stemless, except for the leafless flowering stalks.

Photos and Pictures

Broad-leaved plantain.

Broad-leaved plantain. A Plant.
Broad-leaved plantain. A Plant.

Broad-leaved plantain. B. Seedling, side view. C. Younger seedling.
B. Seedling, side view. C. Younger seedling.

Stems & Roots: Root system thick and fibrous.

Leaves: Leaves all in a basal rosette, oval or elliptic, 5-30cm (2-12in.) long, the blade about as long as its thick green stalk, smooth or somewhat rough-hairy, with 3 to several prominent veins radiating from the leafstalk towards the tip, margins smooth or irregularly toothed.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in compact spikes on erect, leafless stalks from among the basal leaves; each spike about the size and shape of a lead pencil but consisting of many, tiny, stalkless, greenish flowers giving it a coarsely granular texture; each flower about 2-3mm (1/12-1/8in.) across, with 4 sepals, 4 petals, 2 stamens and 1 pistil; the egg-shaped seedpod developing beneath the withering flower; this mature seedpod splitting apart with a circular fracture around its middle so that the top part drops off and releases the 5 to 16 dark brown or nearly black angular seeds, each about 1mm (1/25in.) long. Flowers and sets seed from spring until late autumn.

Habitat: Broad-leaved plantain is very common in all but the most remote unsettled areas of Ontario occurring in cultivated land, pastures, meadows, waste places, roadsides, lawns and gardens.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its rosette of dull green, oval leaves with thick green stalks, and its elongated spikes of tiny green flowers each followed by a small egg-shaped pod with usually more than 5 tiny dark brown or nearly black seeds.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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