Plantago lanceolata is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family Plantaginaceae. It is known by the common names ribwort plantain, narrowleaf plantain, English plantain, ribleaf,  lamb's tongue, and buckhorn. It is a common weed on cultivated or disturbed land.

The plant is a rosette-forming perennial herb, with leafless, silky, hairy flower stems (10–40 cm or 3.9–15.7 in). The basal leaves are lanceolate spreading or erect, scarcely toothed with 3-5 strong parallel veins narrowed to a short petiole. The flower stalk is deeply furrowed, ending in an ovoid inflorescence of many small flowers each with a pointed bract.  Each flower can produce up to two hundred seeds. Flowers are 4 millimeters (0.16 in) (calyx green, corolla brownish), 4 bent back lobes with brown midribs and long white stamens. It is native to temperate Eurasia, widespread throughout the British Isles, but scarce on the most acidic soils (pH < 4.5). It is present and widespread in the Americas and Australia as an introduced species.

Plantago lanceolata is native to Eurasia, but has been introduced to North America and many other parts of the world with suitable habitats.

Plantago lanceolata is used frequently in herbal teas and other herbal remedies. A tea from the leaves is used as a cough medicine. In the traditional Austrian medicine Plantago lanceolata leaves have been used internally (as syrup or tea) or externally (fresh leaves) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, insect bites, and infections.

Observations Map


Songbirds eat the seeds, and the leaves are eaten by rabbits.

Plantago lanceolata can live anywhere from very dry meadows to places similar to a rain forest, but it does best in open, disturbed areas. It is therefore common near roadsides where other plants cannot flourish; it grows tall if it can do so, but in frequently-mowed areas it adopts a flat growth habit instead. Historically, the plant has thrived in areas where ungulates graze and turn up the earth with their hooves.

The mode of reproduction can vary among populations of P. lanceolata. Reproduction occurs sexually, with the pollen being wind-dispersed for the most part, though the plant is occasionally pollinated by bees. P. lanceolata cannot self (reproduce asexually) in the way that many other species of Plantago can; instead, it is an obligate outcrosser.

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