Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Slender Plantain - Plantago heterophylla   Nuttall
Members of Plantaginaceae:
Members of Plantago with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Plantaginales » Family Plantaginaceae
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DistributionEssentially throughout the Coastal Plain, though scarce along the coast. Scattered over most of the Piedmont, but likely absent from the northwestern portions, as well as in the Mountains.

This is a Southern species, mostly found in the Coastal Plains, ranging from southeastern VA and MO south to northern FL and central TX.
AbundanceCommon in the Coastal Plain, but rare to uncommon in most coastal counties. Fairly common in the eastern and southeastern Piedmont, but uncommon farther west in the province; absent in the Mountains and probably the extreme northwestern Piedmont.
HabitatThough native, it is a species of sunny, disturbed areas -- roadsides, fields, lawns, and other waste places.
PhenologyBlooms and fruits from March to May.
IdentificationThis is the smallest and least obvious of the state's native Plantago species, easily overlooked. The numerous leaves (all basal) are strongly ascending, linear, but only about 3 inches tall and barely 1/10-inch wide. The flowering scapes (several to many) do reach about 4-5 inches tall, above the leaves, with the top half consisting of the narrow spike of densely packed flowers (with papery petals). This species has very short bracts, scarcely visible, and thus the spike is barely 1/6-1/8-inch wide. Generally it is separated from the others in the genus by the very narrow, linear leaves and a "bractless" appearance.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Small Plantain, Many-seeded Plantain
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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