PLANTS: from taproots. STEMS: extremely short, disc-like, simple or branched. LEAVES: simple, entire or variously toothed. INFLORESCENCE: scapose, long or short spikes, loose to dense. FLOWERS: several to many, inconspicuous, each subtended by a bract; sepals free (2 fused in P. lanceolata), usually with overlapping scarious margins; corolla whitish, scarious or membranous, persistent, the lobes with a thickened or colored basal spot; stamens 2-4, exserted; style exserted. FRUIT: included in the sepals or exserted, often purplish-brown. SEEDS: mucilaginous when wet, concave, the outer surface often patterned: Plantago afra and P. ovata are used as laxatives. NOTES: ca. 255 spp., cosmopolitan. (Latin: planta = flat and spread out + ago = kind of). REFERENCES: Huisinga, Kristin D. and Tina J. Ayers. 1999. Plantaginaceae. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. 32(1).