Donaldson, S. and Hanson Mazet, W. 2010, A Northern Nevada Homeowner’s Guide to Identifying and Managing Broadleaf Plantain, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-10-17

Other common names

Common plantain, dooryard plantain

Scientific name

Plantago major

Family

Plantaginaceae

Description

A perennial that is a common pest of lawns and gardens, buckhorn plantain grows in a mound. It can be differentiated from buckhorn plantain by its wide, egg‐shaped leaves and long flower spike.

Growing broadleaf plantain

Typical plant growing in disturbed site.

Leaves

Oval to egg‐shaped with smooth or somewhat toothed and wavy edges. The leaves grow from the base of the plant on short, celery‐like stalks to form a rosette (round, ground‐hugging shape). They are about 2 to 7 inches long and have three or more prominent veins.

Broadleaf plantain leaves

Stems

Very short, found only at the base of the plant.

Broadleaf plantain stem

The flowers are tiny and form on a long spike.

Flowers

Small yellowish‐white flowers form on a long spike attached to 5‐ to 15‐inch‐long leafless flowering stalks. Blooms from late spring to summer.

Roots

Fibrous and shallow; connected to a thickened, semi-woody base.

Broadleaf plantain roots

Young plants have broad, oval or eggshaped leaves with prominent veins.

Native to

Europe; naturalized throughout the United States

Where it grows

Roadsides, lawns, gardens, vacant lots, cultivated fields and other disturbed sites. Tolerates compacted and wet sites.

Life cycle

Perennial (grows back each year from the roots)

Reproduction

Produces seed and grows back from the roots

Control methods

Control of plantains can be difficult once they have become established, as plants can regrow from the crown. Continual monitoring and removal of new seedlings is essential to minimize spread.

Mechanical

Dig, hoe or pull repeatedly, removing as much of the root as possible. Use mechanical control methods prior to formation of flowers. Mulching with landscape fabric or more than 3 inches of organic mulch can be effective in controlling seedlings but is unlikely to control mature plants. Mowing is not effective, as plants will regrow and flower close to the ground.

Cultural

Plant desirable vegetation that will shade the area and reduce germination and growth of young plants. For infestations in turf, keep the grasses as healthy and competitive as possible by aerating, mowing high and watering properly. Prevent the spread of seeds by clipping blooms.

Biological

None.

Chemical

Apply broadleaf‐selective herbicides on young plants. Pre‐emergence herbicides can be used to manage existing seed banks.

References

All photos by S. Donaldson.

  • DiTomaso, J.M. and E.A. Healy. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. University of California Publication 3488.
  • Elmore, C.L., D.W. Cudney and M.E. McGiffin. Jr. 2007. Plantains. UC ANR Publication #7478, IPM.
  • USDA‐NRCS Plants Database. No date. Plantago major L., Common Plantain, USDA.
  • Whitson, Tom D. (editor). 2002. Weeds of the West. University of Wyoming, Jackson, Wyoming.

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