Native. Annual and winter annual. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: May to October. Seed-time: June to November. Range: Ontario to British Columbia and Alaska, southward to Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico. Locally established in most of the Eastern States and becoming frequent. Habitat: Grass and clover fields.
More prolific than any of the foregoing species, an average plant producing about three thousand seeds. The rapid widening of its range in recent years is due almost entirely to transportation in baled hay and to the impurity of commercial seeds, especially those of the red and alsike clovers.
Leaves densely tufted, linear, long and grass-like, dark green, softly hairy, three-nerved, with short, margined petioles, growing from a somewhat thickened root which bores straight downward into the soil for several inches. Scapes erect, eight to fifteen inches high, exceeding the leaves; spikes densely flowered, cylindric, two to six inches in length; the bracts, which subtend the flowers, are a half-inch to an inch long, ascending, softly hairy. Capsules oblong-ovoid, each containing two seeds, which are nearly black but appear gray from a coat of dried mucilage, boat-shaped and hollowed on the flattened inner face; they have also a transverse ring around the outer surface at the point of opening of the pyxis, the seeds falling away with the cover, which is winged with the persistent papery corolla, enabling the seeds to be carried a short distance by the wind, so that in the second season after its introduction the plant is usually found covering the ground in dense colonies, choking out nearly all other growth. Also the long vitality of the seeds makes the weed a very persistent one when the ground has been once befouled. (Fig. 274.)
The plant is so grass-like that it is not noticeable until the flower-spikes appear and these should immediately be cut in order to prevent the ripening of any seed. If the infestation is new and the area not too great, hand-pulling and burning is the best remedy. But land badly seeded will require a series of cultivated crops in order to cleanse it.
Fig. 274. - Large-bracted Plantain (Plantago aristata). X 1/5.