This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol3", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Annual, woolly or silky all over, pale green; scapes slender, 2'-15' tall, longer than the leaves. Leaves ascending, linear, acute or acuminate at the apex, narrowed into margined petioles, 1-3-nerved, 1 1/2"-4" wide, entire, or very rarely with a few small teeth; spikes very dense, cylindric, obtuse, 1'-5' long, about 3" in diameter, exceedingly woolly; bracts rigid, equalling or slightly exceeding the flowers; flowers perfect but heterogenous, many of them cleistogamous; sepals oblong, obtuse, scarious-margined; corolla-lobes broadly ovate, spreading; stamens 4; pyxis oblong, obtuse, 1 1/4" long, little exceeding the calyx, 2-seeded, circumscissile at about the middle; seeds convex on the back, deeply concave on the face.
On dry plains and prairies, Indiana to western Ontario, British Columbia, Texas and northern Mexico. Locally adventive eastward. May-Aug. Salt-and-pepper-plant.
Plantago aristata Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 95. 1803. Plantago patagonica var. aristata A. Gray, Man. Ed. 2, 269. 1856.
Annual, dark green, villous, or glabrate; scapes stout, erect, 6'-18'. tall, exceeding the leaves. Leaves linear, acuminate at the apex, entire, narrowed intc slender petioles, sometimes prominently 3-ribbed 1 1/2"-4" wide; spikes very dense, cylindric, 1'-6' long, pubescent but not woolly; bracts puberulent, linear, elongated, ascending, the lower often 10 times as long as the flowers; flowers very similar to those of the preceding species; pyxis 2-seeded; the seeds concave on the face.
On dry plains and prairies, Illinois to South Dakota, Louisiana and Texas, west to British Columbia and New Mexico. Also widely adventive as a weed in the Eastern States from Maine to Georgia, its eastern natural limits now difficult to determine. May-Oct.
Plantago spinulosa Dene., differing in its pale green color and mostly shorter involucral bracts, enters the western part of our area in Nebraska.
Plantago virginica L. Sp. Pl. 113. 1753.
Annual or biennial, pubescent or villous; scapes erect, slender, i'-i8' high, much longer than the leaves. Leaves spatulate or obovate, obtuse or acutish, thin, entire, or repand-denticulate, narrowed into margined petioles, or almost sessile, varying greatly in size, 3-5-nerved, ascending or spreading; spikes very dense, or the lower flowers scattered, linear-cylindric, obtuse, 3"-4," thick, usually 1'-4' long, but in dwarf forms reduced to 2-6 flowers; flowers imperfectly dioecious; corolla-lobes of the fertile plants erect and connivent on the top of the pyxis, those of the sterile widely spreading; stamens 4; pyxis oblong, about as long as the calyx, appearing beaked by the connivent corolla-lobes, 2-4-seeded, the seeds yellow to brown.
In dry soil, Rhode Island to Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Arizona and northern Mexico. Bermuda. March-July.
Plantago rhodosperma Dcne., of the Southwest, with larger flowers and larger reddish seeds, is recorded as adventive in Missouri.