Plantago patagonica Jacq.  
Family: Plantaginaceae
woolly plantain,  more...
[Plantago patagonica var. breviscapa (Shinners) Shinners,  more]
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Max Licher  
Plant: Annual herb; to 21 cm tall Leaves: without distinct petiole; blades linear to linear-lanceolate, 1-15 cm long, 0.1-0.7 cm wide, acute to acuminate at apex, sparsely to densely villous, distinctly 3-veined below, the margins entire INFLORESCENCE: pedunculate, scapose; PEDUNCLES 2-22 cm long, hirsute, with most hairs appressed-ascending. SPIKES 1-13 cm long; bracts linear-triangular to subulate, 2-16 mm long, longer than sepals, scarious-margined at base or to near middle, sparsely to densely villous, with tufts of white hairs in axils, with midvein long ciliate Flowers: perfect; sepals obovate, 2-5 mm long, broadly scarious-margined, villous; corolla lobes spreading or reflexed, broadly ovate, 1.2-2.5 mm long; stamens 4 Fruit: capsules, breaking at or slightly below middle; SEEDS 2, ca. 2.2 mm long, ca. 1.2 mm wide, reddish-brown to light brown to dark brown (rarely black), the inner surface concave, the outer surface rounded and alveolate Misc: Deserts and desert grasslands; 400-2100 m (1200-6800 ft.); Feb to Jul References: Huisinga, Kristin D. and Tina J. Ayers. 1999. Plantaginaceae. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. 32(1).
Annual herb with a taproot flowering stem to 20 cm tall Leaves: basal, semi-clasping, to 18 cm long and 1 cm wide, linear to thread-like with a tapering base and pointed tip, more or less parallel-veined, white woolly. Inflorescence: a dense, slender, cylindrical spike of many flowers arising from a leafless stalk (scape), 0.5 - 15 cm long, very white woolly, with bracts that are barely, if at all, projecting. Flowers: stalkless or nearly stalkless, whitish, rust-colored at the base of each lobe, subtended by bracts that are about 5 mm long. Stamens four, exserted, alternate with corolla lobes. Style one. Sepals: four, green, narrowly oblong egg-shaped with a rounded apex, front two green, to 3 mm long, densely hairy, minutely scarious-margined (dry, thin, and membranous), rear two mostly scarious with a green midrib. Fruit: a dehiscent capsule (circumscissile). Seeds two, brown, 2 - 3 mm long, oblong, convex on one side, concave on the other. Corolla: four-lobed, whitish, rust-colored at the base of each lobe, 3 - 4 mm wide, scarious (dry, thin, membranous). Lobes spreading, about 2 mm wide, rounded to egg-shaped.

Similar species: The woolly herbage, linear leaves, and short inflorescence bracts help distinguish this species.

Flowering: late May to mid July

Habitat and ecology: Introduced from farther west. Locally frequent in sandy soils. It also occurs in newly disturbed sand and along roads.

Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native

Etymology: Plantago comes from the Latin word planta, meaning footprint. Patagonica means "of or from Patagonia, Argentina."

Author: The Morton Arboretum

Annual, much like no. 14 [Plantago aristata Michx.], but smaller, more strongly woolly-villous, and with the bracts seldom much over 5 mm and scarcely or not at all exserted from the spike; 2n=20. Dry prairies and plains; native in the cordilleran region and in s. S. Amer., intr. e. to Ill. and occasionally to the Atlantic states. Our plants are apparently identical with those from S. Amer., but the name var. gnaphalioides (Nutt.) A. Gray is available should a segregation prove possible. (P. purshii) Occasional plants with the lower bracts conspicuously short-exserted from the spike have been called P. patagonica var. spinulosa (Decne.) A. Gray, and may indicate introgression from P. aristata. (P. spinulosa)

Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.

©The New York Botanical Garden. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Huisinga and Ayers 1999, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Native annual; mostly woolly throughout and hairs on upper part of scape; very common. Leaves: Linear to narrowly oblanceolate. Bracts pointed or narrowly lanceolate. Flowers: Inflorescence in dense spikes; petals spreading 2 mm long, suborbicular to ovate; stamens 4. Fruits: Capsule 3.5 mm long; seeds 2. Ecology: Dry open places up to 7,000 ft (2100 m); flowers February-July. Distribution: Throughout N. Amer., in every state in the U.S. except MS, AL, FL, KY, PA, NH; south to S. Amer. Notes: Characterized by hairy, linear to narrowly oblanceolate leaves and a spike inflorescence. More robust and with a denser, longer spike than the similar P. ovata; lower bracts are lanceolate to subulate and longer than the calyx. Hairs on upper part of scape usually apppressed or closely ascending. This species can be abundant in spring, forming thick groundcover in some areas. Ethnobotany: Keres, Navajo, and Zuni make plant tea to treat diarrhea and headaches. Havasupai and many other southwest tribes utilized the seeds as a meal. It likely was an important forage in spring. Etymology: Plantago translates to foot-sole in reference to leaf habit on ground. Patagonica means from Patagonia in South America. Synonyms: Plantago patagonica var. breviscapa, P. patagonica var. gnaphalioides, P. patagonica var. oblonga, P. patagonica var. spinulosa, P. picta, P. purshii, P. purshii var. breviscapa, P. purshii var. oblonga, P. purshii var. picta, P. purshii var. spinulosa, P Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015
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Dustin Wolkis  
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