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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Russell Foreman     (Photo ID #20598)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Plantago lanceolata
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Species Information

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


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)
142 0 1585
Slope Gradient (%)
10 0 55

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

118 19 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 1 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Plantago altissima auct. non L.
Plantago lanceolata var. sphaerostachya Mert. & W.D.J. Koch

Taxonomic 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.