Scouting for weeds: Broadleaf plantain

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Broadleaf plantain: Plantago major L.

Life cycle: Rosette-forming simple perennial.

Leaves: All leaves originate from a basal rosette. Cotyledons are long and spatula-shaped. Leaves are generally smooth and broadly to narrowly oval, with parallel veins and smooth to slightly wavy leaf margins. Leaf base tapers to a distinct petiole. Petioles are usually green but occasionally pale pink.

Stems: No visible aboveground stem. Short taproot present.

Flowers and fruit: Leafless stalks bear long, dense, cylinder-shaped flowering spikes and fruit resembling a rat tail. Single flowers are inconspicuous. Fruiting capsules yield many narrowly oval, usually glossy brown seeds.

Reproduction: Seeds.

Similar weeds: Blackseed plantain (P. rugelii Dcne.)
Differs by often having dark red to purple petioles, usually wavy leaf margins and dull dark brown to black seeds.

broadleaf flower
Broadleaf plantain
flowering spikes.

Broadleaf seedling
Broadleaf plantain seedling.

Rosette
Broadleaf plantain rosette.

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