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Weed Series: Broadleaf and Buckhorn Plantain

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By Carol Sitarski, Master Gardener Volunteer Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany County

There are two varieties that grow in this area, and both are perennials. In nature there are two types of perennials, simple or solitary (these plants grow singly). You may see several growing close together, but they have separate root systems and spread only by seed. The other type of perennial is spreading. These can start as a seed but reproduce through underground runners called rhizomes or solons and are horizontal stems. Rhizomes grow underground and solons grow aboveground. Both broadleaf and buckhorn are simple perennials and spread only by seed.

Broadleaf plantains (Plantago major) are short plants which have dark green broad leaves that are serrated/curled on ends with deeper parallel veins. The taller flower stalks have insignificant flowers. Buckhorn plantains (Plantago lanceolata) have three- to 10-inch-long football shaped leaves clustered at the bottom of stalks that have prominent veins and small white hairs. The flower stalk can be up to 24 inches tall with small white stamens at the top. Both plants prefer to grow in soil that doesn’t have good fertility and is compacted. To control cut seed stalks while still flowering to prevent seed spread or pulling of plants by hand when soil is damp. The adding of organic matter to enrich the soil is also recommended.

For more information about this and any gardening topic, please send your questions to alleganymg@cornell.edu or cfa34@cornell.edu at any time, our educators and Master Gardener Volunteers are always happy to help.

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