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English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Aliases:  Ribwort, Narrow-Leaved Plantain, Buckhorn Plantain

Family:  Plantain (Plantaginaceae)

Habitat:  If you live in the Sierra foothills, it's probably growing in your lawn. English Plantain is an alien, introduced from Europe and spreading rapidly without bothering to wait around for the green card application to come through. According to the USDA distribution map, it's found a home in every U.S. state and territory from Hawaii eastwards except the Virgin Islands, and has found much of Canada and Greenland tolerable as well. It's common throughout the foothills and makes itself comfortable at elevations up to 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). Dry and sunny seem ideal for it, but it's not picky.

Flowering Season:   May - July

Size:  The flowering section of the plant is typically 1 - 2 inches tall. The individual flowery bits, which might remind you of tiny white hearts or albino Sugar Smacks, are quite small - perhaps a few millimeters in length each. The entire plant is typically 1 - 2 feet high. Unless you're viewing this from a cellphone, the photo above probably appears larger than life.

Lifespan:  Perennial

Origins:  Invasive  (see distribution maps for California and US/Canada)

Plantago lanceolata etymology:  Plantago derives from the Latin word planta, meaning "young plant" or "sole of the foot". Lanceolata derives from the Latin term for a spear or lance, and is usually used to indicate a species with narrow leaves that taper to a point at one end. 1 2

This Photo:  North of Oakhurst near Highway 49, mid May. Elevation 2,300 feet (700 meters).

Other Resources:   CalFlora  ·  CalPhotos  ·  USDA  ·  UC Weed Gallery

More English Plantain Pictures