Plantain plant

Scientific name

Plantago lanceolata


  • Fast establishing.
  • Tolerant of drought and low fertility.
  • Excellent feeding value including summer.


  • Susceptible to broad leaf herbicides.
  • Slow growth in winter.

Plant description


Erect, leafy, perennial herb with a deep, dense, branching fibrous root system.


Rosette of broad leaves from central crown. Leaves up to 25 cm long, often purplish at the base and each with 3 – 5 longitudinal ribs. Fine hairs on upper surface; hairy along the lower side ribs.


Tiny, four parted, creamy-white flowers with long stamens. Flowers during midsummer. Flower stems are erect, furrowed, leafless, and up to 50 cm long.


Asingle spike per stem, up to 2.5 cm long, cone-shaped or cylindrical, very compact grey-green turning dark brown-black on ripening.


~ 1 mm and oval; black-brown. 500,000/kg.

Pasture type and use

Valuable component of permanent pastures and specialist summer pastures.

Where it grows


>600 mm.


Tolerates a broad range of soil types, fertility and pH.


Wide climate adaption; tolerant of frost; relatively heat tolerant.


Field of Plantain

Companion species

Grasses: phalaris, cocksfoot, tall fescue, Bromus spp.

Legumes: sub, white and red clover.

Fodder crops: Brassica spp.

Sowing/planting rates as single species

5 – 10 kg/ha.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

5-10 with specialist clover pastures2- 4 kg/ha with grass pastures or Brassica fodder spp.

Sowing time

Sow in autumn/spring after pre-emergent weed control.


Not applicable.


Sow with ~10-15 kg P/ha.


Maintenance fertliser

10 kg P/ha.

Plantain seeds


Can tolerate continuous and close grazing. Graze rotationally to gain maximum production. A 3-4 week rotation in late spring will maintain seed head palatability. Can use for silage/hay.

Seed production

Free seeding

Ability to spread

Yes. Regenerates from self-sown seed. Is a widely naturalised species.

Weed potential

Pollen contains allergens associated with asthma and bronchitis.

Major pests

Red-legged earthmite, slugs, snails.

Major diseases


Herbicide susceptibility

Glyphosate and phenoxy-based chemicals (2,4-D, MCPA).

Animal production

Feeding value

Good quality feed – see grazing note re late spring. High mineral concentrations include copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt. This widely used medicinal herb contains various secondary metabolites with recognised tonic and anti-biotic properties; these may benefit stock/rumen flora.

Plantain flower


Highly palatable.

Production potential

Good spring-autumn production.

Livestock disorders/toxicity



Cultivar Seed source/Information
Grasslands Lancelot PGG Seeds
Ceres Tonic PGG Seeds

Denotes that this variety is protected by Plant Breeder’s Rights Australia

Author and date

K. Reed

March 2009