Guess What

Intricate flower on a common weed (photo by Kate St. John)

This summer I’m having fun taking a close-up look at nature.

Here’s a small, incredibly common flower that a lot of people can’t stand.  Can you guess what it is?

Here are some interesting facts about it:

  • It’s native to Eurasia, introduced to North America and Australia.
  • The flower spike blooms bottom to top.
  • The plant is wind-pollinated, which probably explains why the stamens stick out so far.
  • It grows very easily in sunny disturbed soil.  I’ve found it growing in cracks in the pavement.
  • In archaeology its pollen has been used as an indicator of agriculture.
  • It is very hardy and will come back again and again after mowing.
  • Tea made from its leaves is an herbal remedy for coughs.
  • In some states it’s not listed as invasive because it only grows in disturbed soil and waste places.
  • Chemical lawn treatments target these broad-leaved plants but force those lawns to be monocultures of grass.

Can you guess what it is?  


(photo by Kate St. John)

8 thoughts on “Guess What

  1. I call them shooters….you wrap the bottom stem around the top and shoot…see how far you can get….my dad taught me this when I was little and still do it…I’m still a kid at heart….also I found the buckeye butterfly will use it as a host plant, so I have “shooters” everywhere…the real name is English Plantain. The “good” lawn has lots of “goodies” for all the pollenators and butterflies and birds…you are getting good taking photos. :> }

  2. Art, I always think the broad leaf plantain reminds me of a “rat tail” and when the leaves dry out in the summer, they make a lot of noise when you move over them…the other kind reminds you of a small soft “pinecone” on the end of a tall stem…if the grass hasn’t been mowed for a while, these are usually what is sticking up and gets little pollen and bugs all over your legs…esp when it’s wet out…at least they do to me…

    1. Excellent descriptions, Marcy. My yard has some of both. I prefer this plantain to the other one.

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