Ribwort Plantain

 Ribwort Plantain

Plantago lanceolata

Scientific name

Plantago lanceolata is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family Plantaginaceae. It is known by the common names ribwort plantain, narrowleaf plantain, English plantain, ribleaf and lamb's tongue.

The plant is a rosette-forming perennial herb, with leafless, silky, hairy flower stems (10-40 cm or 3.9-15.7 in). The basal leaves are lanceolate spreading or erect, scarcely toothed with 3-5 strong parallel veins narrowed to short petiole. Grouping leaf stalk deeply furrowed, ending in an ovoid inflorescence of many small flowers each with a pointed bract. Each flower can produce up to two seeds.

It occurs on every continent and in a range of soil types although reported absent in acid soils in some countries. Its taproot allows to go dormant during drought and re-sprout and it disperses well by seeds, almost all of which can germinate. It is usually out-competed by more vigorous plants in tropical areas but elsewhere it can form "dense swards that crowd out native vegetation and prevent the establishment of native species" (Weber, 2003). It also causes allergies in humans.

Weber E, 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: A reference guide to environmental weeds. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 548 pp.

Propagation instructions

By seed

grazing and mowing reducing this weed, and it can be hand-weeded effectively. Hand weeding can be used in conjunction with herbicide.

References and further reading

Learn more »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Sannse

Can you help us remove this species?

This species is a difficult weed in our Fynbos patches. Can you help us remove it? See our activity calendar for upcoming activities, or arrange with us visit our Fynbos patches and do the weeding in your own time.

I can help!

Important characteristics

This species was selected because it is a difficult alien invasive weed in our Fynbos patch(es).

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