Weed Head (Plantain, Plantago sp.

ragged plantain flower head with various white anthers and another fuller flower in the background
An almost spent plantain (Plantago sp.) flower head. But there’s always more to come.

I’m not a great fan of lawn mowing, but sometimes it has to be done. For a bug person, it’s kind of like taking an apocalypse machine and razing an alien planet. But then there are the plantains. I think it’s an aesthetic thing that I simply don’t like about them; cutting them down is kind of pleasing. (Incidentally, I’m a big fan of the fruit people think of when you say “plantain.”)

Like most things, when you look more closely, they become more interesting. The flower heads on those long, fast-sprouting stems are an interesting bit of plant anatomy. The papery anthers on the flossy filaments surely look better up close.

Side note: very cursory internet search suggests this could be an English plantain, Plantago lanceolata, but my aptitude for identifying plants is nowhere near the same for arthropods. So, big grains of salt. (Black and white version below.)

ragged plantain flower head with various white anthers and another fuller flower in the background
An almost spent plantain (Plantago sp.) flower head. But there’s always more to come. (Black and white version)
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3 thoughts on “Weed Head (Plantain, Plantago sp.

  1. I definitely do not like plantains in my yard. But they do make for an interesting photo subject as you’ve shown. I remember as kids we would get one with a very log stem, brake off about 2 inches, wrap that semi loosely around the remaining stem, and then pull the stem back quickly to pop the head off. We would have contests for distance and accuracy.

    That’ sthe kind of things small town kids did in the 50s when you didn’t have tech gadegets, your town only got one TV station, and about the only toy you that made a noises was a cap gun. (batteries not included or needed)

    1. And now kids won’t even put their feet on grass — literally! (Ok, I know one kid who’s really a baby, 16 months old, but it’s kind of funny and strange. He’ll probably figure it out. I hope.)

      That story about popping the plantain heads sounds familiar to me. Making due with what’s at hand is a fine art (if not Fine Arts) in and of itself.

  2. I agree. I like the plantains, but the tall ones are the only reason half the time that I cannot delay mowing the grass one more week. There they are waving their flowers in the breeze above every other weed in the lawn! (and their are plenty!)

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