E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Plantago lanceolata L.
ribwort plantain (English plantain; narrowleaf plantain)
Plantaginaceae (Mare's-tail family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Russell Foreman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #20598)

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Distribution of Plantago lanceolata
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a short, stout, erect stem-base and taproot with secondary fibrous roots, the stem-base somewhat brown woolly-hairy; stems erect, few, simple, finely grooved, short stiff-hairy, 15-45 (60) cm tall.
Basal leaves lanceolate to oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic, smooth to long-hairy, 3- to several-veined, 10-35 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, stalked, entire; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence of dense bracteate spikes, the spikes more or less egg-shaped, becoming cylindric, 1.5-8 cm long, almost 1 cm thick; corollas greenish, 4-lobed, the lobes 2-2.5 mm long, spreading or reflexed; bracts widely egg-shaped, more or less equal to the sepals, thin, pointed; sepals next to the bract united; stamens conspicuous, yellow.
Capsules, narrowly egg-shaped, 3-4 mm long; seeds 2, rarely 1, ellipsoid, shining, blackish, minutely roughened, 2-3 mm long, deeply concave.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry lawns, fields and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in SW BC, infrequent N along the coast and E in BC; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Additional Notes

"The family Plantaginaceae includes three genera and an estimated 250-275 species from diverse habitats throughout the world (Pilger 1937). In Canada, the family is represented by two genera containing seven introduced species and ten native species" (Bassett 1973).


Bassett, I. John. 1973. The Plantains of Canada. Monograph No. 7. Canada Department of Agriculture.


Ecological Framework for Plantago lanceolata

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 142 1585
Slope Gradient (%) 0 10 55
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
19 118 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 3 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(45), CWH(10), ESSF(1), ICH(1), IDF(3)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Plantago altissima auct. non L.
Plantago lanceolata var. sphaerostachya Mert. & W.D.J. Koch

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References