Plantago virginica L.

Virginia Plantain

Plantago virginica plant

Family - Plantaginaceae

Stems - Plant acaulescent, from a taproot, herbaceous. Flowering scapes to +20cm tall, erect, solid, multiple from the base, simple, hispid.

Flowering scape close-up.

Leaves - In a basal rosette, spatulate to oblanceolate or obovate, rounded to subacute at the apex, tapering to the base, to +/-15cm long, +/-4cm broad, typically hispidulous above and below but sometimes sparse pubescent. Lateral veins arising from the base of the blade, parallel to midrib. Petioles typically purplish at the base. Margins entire to shallow toothed.

Plantago virginica rosetteBasal rosette.

Plantago virginica leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal scapose spike to 5cm long, 8mm in diameter. Each flower subtended by a single bract. Bracts sessile, scarious-margined, hispid abaxially, glabrous adaxially, to 2mm long.

Plantago virginica inflorescenceInflorescence.

Flowers - Corolla 4-lobed. Corolla tube to 2.1mm long, scarious, glabrous. Corolla lobes to 1.5mm long, brownish-scarious, spreading in flower, erect and convergent in fruit. Stamens 4, alternating with the corolla lobes, erect to spreading, well exserted. Filaments translucent, glabrous, to 3-5mm long. Anthers yellow-purple, 1mm long. Ovary superior, green, glabrous, globose, .7mm in diameter. Style 1, pubescent, 4-5mm long, exserted. Sepals 4, ovate-elliptic, scarious with a green midvein, +2mm long, 1.7mm broad, hispid abaxially, with ciliolate margins.

Plantago virginica flowersFlowers close-up.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Fallow fields, pastures, glades, waste ground, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This variable species can be found throughout Missouri and is very common. The plant can be difficult to identify in the field sometimes because it is very variable in leaf size, shape, and toothing, pubescence, and scape size.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 4-16-03.