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Broadleaf Plantain

Lawn Weed ID and Control Tips

How to identify and manage broadleaf plantain Plantago major (also called "common plantain"). Weed photos are included to help with weed id.

Plantain is a very common lawn weed -- almost as common as dandelions -- and is found throughout the United States.


  • Cool-season simple perennial - meaning it has a short taproot and does not spread by creeping roots or shoots like the creeping perennials.
  • Leaves form a rosette
  • Finger-like flower stalks
  • Reproduces by seed
  • Short, fat taproot

Adapted to many sites, it grows very well thin lawns that need to be fertilized and is a sign of soil compaction. Adapted to many sites, you can find it in lawns, along roadsides or in pastures.

Edible and use as a medicinal herb. If you enjoy growing edible plants in your landscape, common plantain can be added to your list of edible weeds. High in vitamin B1 and riboflavin, the leaves can be added to salads or cooked as an herb but it has a bitter taste.

Plantain is a native of Europe and Asia. Native Americans called the plant "white man's footprint" or "Englishman's foot" because it appeared wherever white men went (Wikipedia).

View more pictures of Broadleaf Plantain and other weeds.

Weed Images

broadleaf plantainPlantago major
Image courtesy of Sheri Hagwood @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Lawn weed identification of broadleaf plantain
broadleaf plantain weed picture
broadleaf plantain illustrationCommon Plantain Plantago major Illustration courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913.

Plantain Lawn Weed Control

Chemical-Free Control:

Plantain is easily controlled by hand weeding, use a dandelion weed puller to remove them from lawns or pluck them out of landscape beds with a digging fork. Prevent re-seeding by removing seed heads as soon as you see them. Let weeds dry in the sun for a few days before adding them to your compost pile.

Control with Herbicides:

A spring application of crabgrass preventer (pre-emergence) can be used to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Use a preemergence if broadleaf plantain was a problem the previous year. Post-emergent herbicides work best on plantain in mid to late spring and in the fall when the weeds are actively growing.

Weed Identification

The leaves are very broad and oval shaped with long petioles that looks like miniature celery. They form a rosette that is compact when mowed.

The tiny white flowers are borne on long finger-like spikes. It produces flowers from May to September.

It has a short, fat taproot that produces several fibrous roots.

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