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Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major L.)

Crop Impacts: Pastures, alfalfa and clovers

Broadleaf Plantain 1

About Broadleaf Plantain:

Broadleaf Plantain is a perennial weed that procreates through the reproduction of their seeds. The leaves of a young Broadleaf Plantain are sometimes used in salads. Also, older leaves can be steeped in hot water to make a tea that people sometimes use as mouthwash to treat toothaches and mouth sores. The seeds of the Broadleaf Plantain weed produce a laxative when eaten raw.

Family: Plantain Family (Plantaginaceae)

Broadleaf Plantain 2 Broadleaf Plantain 3

Broadleaf Plantain Scouting and Prevention:

A unique feature of a Broadleaf Plantain weed is that it is stemless, except for flowering, leafless stalks. The leaves either lay close to or on the ground. They are oval or basal rosette in shape and 5 to 30cm long. The green leafs are smooth with a minimum of 5 prominent veins coming from the bottom of the leaf to the tip. The flowers are inside spikes that sit on the straight, leafless stalk which grow up among the leaves. A pencil is a great comparison to what the stalk of this weed looks like, having greenish flowers at the top that are stalkless and granular in texture. Mature plants have tiny, brown to black egg-shaped seeds coming out of the flowers.

Common locations

  • - Cultivated land
  • - Pastures
  • - Moist areas
  • - Gardens
  • - Alfalfa fields
  • - Clover fields
  • - Compacted soil


Prevention of Broadleaf Plantain is less expensive and less time-consuming then trying to control it. Make sure when you seed a new area that you do so with certified weed-free seeds. If there is an infested area on your property, be sure to drive around instead of through it. Make sure to give all equipment that has been in infested fields a good clean to make sure no seeds are transferred. For your lawns, the best prevention is having a full, healthy aerate lawn. If there is less than 1inch of rain in a week, make sure to give your lawn a deep watering.

Pre-emergent treatment of herbicides can also work well. In alfalfa fields, hexazinone has been seen to have success in controlling established Broadleaf Plantain from germinating.

Broadleaf Plantain Control:

Cultural Control

Culturally controlling this weed by pulling it out by hand can be effective if you pull out the short tap root to prevent regrowth. It is important to note that you may have to go back to infested areas a few times to pull out new Broadleaf Plantain to achieve total control.

Chemical Control

For an area with greater infestation, application of post-emergent herbicides applied during the fall when the plants are moving nutrients to the roots is the most effective. Where it is safe to spray 2,4-D on pastures and cloves, it is strongly suggested to do so to reduce the potency of the Broadleaf Plantain. Preen Weed Control, a granular broadleaf killer, has successful control on wide spread outbreaks. For areas where there is infestation in ornamental and edible gardens, Preen Vegetable Garden Organic Weed Preventer stops Broadleaf Plantain from germinating. If you are looking to spot treat small areas with herbicides, glyphosate does the trick. Be sure not to apply herbicides on windy days or when the temperature is over 29°C.

Latin / Alternative Broadleaf Plantain names:

  • - Plantago major L.,
  • - Common plantain
  • - Doorweed
  • - Dooryard plantain
  • - Plantain
  • - Whiteman's foot
  • - Grand plantain
  • - Plantain majeur

Additional Broadleaf Plantain Resources