Some of the plantains were here when Columbus landed on New World shores; others came afterward and soon grew abundantly. Where the white man traveled and set up his lodging, plantains sprang up next year. White-man's foot, the Indians called them, those small persistent weeds which they never had seen before. Wherever the white man cut the woods and broke out roads, wherever he pastured his stock or laid out his fields and gardens, there, in another year or so, were plantains growing. They seeded themselves, made deep, persistent roots which could send up new plants if the leaves were sheared off down to the ground. It took a lot to destroy the European plantains and as a result they have long since encompassed the country.

Small Plantain.

Plantago virginica L.

May - June. Lawns, sandy uplands.

One which is very common over most of America is the whip-lash English plantain {Plantago lanceolata) which grows in grassy places and in sandy roadsides. It has a basal rosette of long, narrow leaves from which rise many long, strong, slender stalks each topped with a narrow head of creamy-yellowish stamens. For a little while it is a graceful, interesting flower-head which seeds itself abundantly.

One of the native American plantains is the less obtrusive small plantain. In sandy places the small oval, hairy leaves stand up with a densely hairy little flower spike. This terminates in a narrow spike of stameny flowers. It is always a small, compact plant apparently without the ability to multiply tremendously as the European plantains seem to do. In consequence it is much less common - a compact little green plant which most people tread underfoot without even noticing what is there.