Common Plantain (Plantago major) in Mulch, Philadelphia in album plants

In Albums:Philadelphia plants

A common plantain plant, showing tough, round leaves with ridges, growing radially, in some mulch

Jun 11th, 2011, by Alex Zorach

This photo shows a plant, Plantago major, which in most of North America is called the common plantain, but in some areas is called the greater plantain. This "plantain" is unrelated to the banana-like fruit which is a staple food and major source of starch in much of the world.

The common plantain is a common sight in lawns and disturbed areas. Its pattern of growing tough, flat leaves, close to the ground, helps to protect it against herbivores (its leaves are edible, although very tough). An opportunistic plant, the common plantain can grow in very poor, compacted soils, but it can also take advantage of good growing conditions, and in nutrient-rich soil, rapidly grows to massive sizes, with leaves several inches long. Native to Europe and Asia, but not North America, this plant is non-native here in Philadelphia. The plant also has some medicinal uses.