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Plantago major

Plantago major L.

Plantago asiatica auct. non L.

Plantago halophila E.P. Bicknell

Plantago major L. ssp. intermedia (DC.) Arcang.

Plantago major L. var. asiatica auct. non (L.) Decne.

Plantago major L. var. intermedia (DC.) Pilg.

Plantago major L. var. pachyphylla Pilg.

Plantago major L. var. pilgeri Domin

Plantago major L. var. scopulorum Fr. & Broberg

Common Plantain

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyPlantaginaceaePlantains
GenusPlantagoFrom Latin plantago, “footprint,” since plantains popped up where European settlers walked
Speciesmajor“Major” or most important

About plant names...

This native of much of Europe and Asia has since spread worldwide, where it is a very common weed. Native americans, observing it for the first time after Europeans came to the Americas, called it “white man’s footprint” or “Englishman’s foot.”

Identification: Plants have a rosette of low-lying oval leaves, each 1¾-8" (5-20 cm) long and 1½-3½" (4-9 cm) wide. It produces stalks 6-18" (15-45 cm) tall, with inconspicuous greenish white flowers along the entire length. The tall stalks are the most noticeable feature of the plant. The flowers become small green seedpods about ⅛" (3.2 mm) long, containing 10-20 tiny seeds. Plantain grows in virtually any soil, inhabiting spaces no sensible plant would dare approach, such as heavily trodden sand parking lots.

Edibility: The young leaves are edible. Remove the fibrous strands before using them on salads. Blanching (brief immersion in boiling water) softens them a bit.

Online References:

Plantago major on kingdomPlantae.net

Plantago major on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Plantago major University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

Plantago major on Wikipedia

Plantago major on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Plantago major at the Oregon Flora Image Project

Plantago major on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Plantago major on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Plantago major on eFloras

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

7/28/2009 · Near Nashua River Boat Ramp, Groton, MA
≈ 11 × 13" (27 × 32 cm)

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

6/22/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

8/1/2009 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME
≈ 14 × 18" (34 × 46 cm)

Plantago major description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 5 Oct 2016.

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Plantago major (Common Plantain)

6/1/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 31 × 46" (78 × 117 cm)

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

7/29/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

Located beside saltwater, this may be the intermedia subspecies. · 9/18/2016 · Deer Isle, at Water’s Edge

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

Located beside saltwater, this may be the intermedia subspecies. · 9/18/2016 · Deer Isle, at Water’s Edge

Plantago major (Common Plantain)

9/10/2014 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 6 × 8" (14 × 20 cm)

Range:

About this map...