Plantago aristata Michx.

Bracted Plantain

Plantago aristata plant

Family - Plantaginaceae

Stems - Acaulescent to short-stemmed (in old plants). Flowering stems to +/-40cm tall, herbaceous, erect to ascending, multiple from base, from a taproot.

Leaves - Basal, linear, arachnoid pubescent to lanate abaxially, glabrous and deep green above, tapering at base ends, to +15cm long, -1cm broad, slightly scabrous, entire, acute.

Inflorescence - Scapose spikes. Spikes to +12cm long, 7-8mm in diameter. Scape to +16cm long, antrorse strigose (the hairs pustulate at the base and giving the scape a scabrous feel). Each flower subtended by an aristate bract. Bracts to +/-3cm long, 2mm broad, densely arachnoid pubescent at base.

Plantago aristata inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla scarious, 4-lobed, 3-4mm broad. Lower lobe deflexed, lateral lobes reflexed. Lobes ferruginous at base. Stamens 4, alternating with the corolla lobes, exserted. Anthers yellow, sagittate, .2-.3mm long. Style exserted, 1.5mm long. Ovary glabrous, shiny green, 3mm long, 2mm in diameter, ovoid, with transverse groove. Placentation axile. Seeds 2. Sepals 4. Front two sepals green, densely pilose, with minutely scarious margins (less than .2mm broad), minutely glandular pubescent internally, oblong, round at apex, to 3mm long, 1.3mm broad. Rear two sepals mostly scarious but with a green midrib, scarious portion to 1mm broad.

Plantago aristata flowersFlowers close-up.

Flowering - May - November.

Habitat - Pastures, glades, waste ground, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found throughout Missouri. The plant is easy to ID in the field because of the large aristate bracts which it has on the inflorescence. The plant can be variable in size and pubescence.

Photographs taken at the Dave Rock Conservation Area, St. Clair County, MO., 6-7-03, and in Springfield, MO., 7-5-03.