Broadleaf plantain (Plantag0 major) and its’ cousin, blackseed plantain (Plantago rugelii), are rosette-forming perennial weeds of high or low maintenance lawns and pastures. Both have broad oval leaves with somewhat parallel vernation. For a short period in the summer, the plant produces leafless, unbranched flowering stems with small inconspicuous flowers.
Broadleaf plantain is found throughout the United States and southern Canada. Blackseed plantain is generally restricted to the eastern United States. Both are primarily turfgrass weeds, though they may also invade into nurseries, landscapes, orchards, and reduced tillage crops. Although they can grow on roadsides and waste areas, they prefer nutrient rich, moist soils. Both broadleaf and blackseed plaintain are tolerant to close mowing, heavily compacted soils, wet soils, and dry sites.
Reproduction of broadleaf plantain is solely by seed, which germinate in late spring through midsummer and sporadically in the early fall. Seedlings develop as basal rosettes. Leaves are smooth or inconspicuously hairy. Roots are primarily a short taproot with fibrous roots. Small, inconspicuous flowers are produced from June through September on long, leafless stalks arising from the rosette. Petals are whitish. Overwintering rosettes remain green where winters are mild, but die back to the crown in colder climates. Fruiting stalks turn dark brown or black and persist for an extended period.
Similar species such as blackseed plantain are distinguished by the leaves that tend to be lighter green, less wasxy, more tapered at the tip, and are more red to purple at the base of the stalk of the leaf. The bases also tend to be narrower.
For more information about weed control, see the Plantain Management Guide at UC-Davis’ Integrated Pest Management website.
And on a side note, this weed actually has some edible and medicinal uses.
Resource: Uva, Richard H., Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso. Weeds of the Northeast. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates, 1997. Print.