Skip to content.

Some features of this website require Javascript to be enabled for best usibility. Please enable Javascript to run.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Plantains - Broad-leaved/Narrow-leaved

There are 2 types of plantains found in Ontario: broad-leaved and narrow-leaved.

Scientific Names: Broad-leaved plantain, Plantago major L., Narrow-leaved plantain, Plantago lanceolata L.,

Other Names

Broad-leaved Plantain Narrow-leaved Plantain
  • Plantain majeur
  • Common plantain
  • Doorweed
  • Dooryard plantain
  • Plantain
  • Whiteman’s-foot
  • Grand plantain
  • Plantain lancéolé
  • Buckhorn plantain
  • English plantain
  • Ribgrass
  • Plantain à feuilles lancéolées
  • Herbe à cinq coutures

Family: Plantain Family (Plantaginaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing only by seed.

Habitat: Plantains are very common in Ontario occurring in cultivated land, pastures, meadows, waste places, roadsides, lawns and gardens.



  • Root system thick and fibrous


Broad-leaved Plantain Narrow-leaved Plantain
  • Leaves all in a basal rosette
  • Oval or elliptic
  • 5- 30 cm (2- 12 in.) long
  • The blade about as long as its thick green stalk
  • Smooth or somewhat rough-hairy
  • 3 to several prominent veins radiating from the leafstalk towards the tip
  • Margins smooth or irregularly toothed
  • Leaves all in a basal rosette
  • Long and narrow
  • Very prominent, almost parallel veins or ribs which run the length of the leaf
  • Sometimes the blade being strongly folded lengthwise along each rib


Broad-leaved Plantain Narrow-leaved Plantain
  • 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 2- 3 mm (1/12- 1/8 in.) across
  • 4 petals
  • 4 sepals
  • 2 stamens
  • 1 pistil
  • Egg-shaped seedpod developing beneath the withering flower
  • Mature seedpod splitting apart with a circular facture around its middle and release 5- 16 dark brown or nearly black angular seeds, each about 1 mm (1/25 in.) long
  • Flowers and sets seed from spring until late autumn
  • Very short, compact, somewhat oval spike of tiny flowers at the ends of long, thin, leafless stems
  • At flowering, the spike surrounded by a halo of anthers at the ends of long thin stamens protruding from the flowers
  • Seedpod contains only 1 or 2 seeds, each about 3 mm (1/8 in.) long
  • Flowers from spring until late autumn

Often Confused With
Blackseed Plantain (Blackseed plantain often is red in colour at the base of the petiole)

Broad leaved plaintain Narrow leaved plaintain Narrow leaved plaintain Narrow leaved plaintain
Click to enlarge.