Weed of the Month-June 2019

Buck’s Horn Plantain

(Plantago coronopus)

(Photos: C. Schultz. young basal rosette; flower spikes on mature plant, Cape Jerivs, Fleurieu Ave and along foreshore)

It is the heavily lobed leaves of this plantain that have given rise to its common name: you can easily see in the left hand photo, the resemblance to a stag’s antlers. Those leaves are mostly hairy, and spread out from a rosette at the base; underground is a strong taproot. The plant itself is an annual, or short lived perennial, growing in the cooler months and dying off over summer. The spring and summer flowers are tiny, forming a dense cylindrical spike up to 12cm long, on a stout, hairy stalk. The plant can be a good indicator of salinity: at low salinity, the plant is a dull grey-green, while the higher the salinity, the redder the leaves. Originally from western Europe, western Asia and the Mediterranean, this plant grows both in more settled and in disturbed areas, in soil types ranging from sandy to loam or clay. Young, tender leaves have been used in salads, and the plant has some grazing potential for livestock.