Plantago virginica

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Plantago virginica
Plan virg.jpg
Photo by John R. Gwaltney, Southeastern
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Plantaginales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Plantago
Species: P. virginica
Binomial name
Plantago virginica
PHYS VIRG dist.jpg
Natural range of Plantago virginica from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Virginia plantain, hoary plantain

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none[1]

Varieties: Plantago virginica var. virginica; Plantago virginica var. viridescens Fernald[1]


"Perennial or annual acaulescent or caulescent herbs. Leaves all basal, or opposite on freely branched stems. Spike bracteate. Calyx actinomorphic, sepals 4, united only at the base; corolla actinomorphic, united ½ or more its length, lobes 4, erect, spreading or reflexed, papery, persistent in fruit. Stamens 4, barely to long exserted; stigma 2-cleft, ovary superior. Capsule circumscissile, 2-locular, 2 to many seeded."[2]

"Acaulescent winter annual with a tap root, often dioecious. Leaves pubescent, oblanceolate to elliptic, the longest ones 2-15 cm long, 0.5-4 cm wide acute to obtuse, irregularly dentate to nearly entire, base attenuate; petioles usually purple at the base, obscured by decurrent blade tissue. Scape hollow, terete, 4-18 cm long. Spike 1-15 cm long, densely flowered and fruited. Bracts and sepals obtuse, calyx lobes 2-2.3 mm long, about equaling to 2X as long as the bracts, margins hyaline; corolla lobes 1.5-2.9 mm long, about equal to tube. Stamens and stigma well exserted. Capsule 2-seeded, 2-3 mm long, circumscissile near the middle. Seeds light brown, nearly smooth, lustrous, grooved on the back, the hilum inconspicuous, ellipsoid, 1.5-1.8 mm long."[2]




A natural community of P. virginica is a frequently burned mature longleaf pine-wiregrass community.[3] In human disturbed areas it has been documented to grow in a mowed grassy roadside, old biocontrol plots, and a lawn near a T.V. tower.[3] It has been observed growing with Pinus palustris and Aristida.[3] It is known to grow in loamy soil and sand of disturbed roadsides.[3]


P. virginica has been recorded flowering from January to May and in December with peak inflorescence in April.[3][4]

Seed bank and germination

When exposed to natural seasonal changes, buried seeds of P. virginica exhibit an annual conditional dormancy/non-dormancy cycle.[5] Dormancy is broken in the summer, with the germination season extending from September to November.[5] Peak germination for P. virginica occurs in October.[5]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Historically, the leaves were used as a tonic, the seeds as a laxative. The seeds can be soaked to extract gum for use in lotions. Crushed leaves were used as an ointment on injuries to reduce swelling, and the leaves or roots boiled were used in relieving soreness in breasts. Parts of the plant were used in treating dysentery, constipation, and blood disorders.[6]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 974-977. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Robert K. Godfrey, Andre F. Clewell, R.A. Norris, R.F. Doren, R. Komarek, Loran C. Anderson. States and Counties: Florida: Gadsden, Holmes, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, Washington. Georgia: Grady, Thomas. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  4. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 12 DEC 2016
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Baskin, C. C., J. M. Baskin, et al. (2003). "Seasonal changes in the germination responses of buried seeds of three native eastern North American winter annuals." Plant Species Biology 18: 59-66.
  6. Korchmal, Arnold & Connie. 1973. A Guide to the Medicinal Plants of the United States. The New York Times Book Company, New York.