Range: New Brunswick to the Northwest Territory and Alaska, southward to Florida and Kansas. Habitat: Grasslands.
A much more pernicious weed than its broad-leaved relatives; they seem to prefer yard and roadside, but this species overruns meadows and pastures. Cattle feed on the plant without any apparent dislike, though it is stringy and somewhat bitter and detracts from the quality of the dairy products. (Fig. 273.)
Rootstock short and thick, with many branching rootlets. Leaves thickly tufted, oblong-lance-shaped, thick, entire, hairy on both sides with small tufts of brownish hair at the base, three- to seven-ribbed, tapering to margined petioles. Scape very slender, strong and wiry, five-grooved, hairy; the spike at its summit is at first capitate and very dense, but lengthens with the procession of bloom, becoming cylindric and more than an inch long; calyx-lobes and subtending bracts greenish brown, scarious. Capsule longer than the calyx, slightly narrowed upward, the pyxis opening at about the middle and containing but two seeds, grooved on the inner face. An average plant will produce about a thousand seeds; these are a very common impurity of grass and clover seeds. When wet, the seeds are very mucilaginous, a quality which aids their distribution.
Sow clean seed. Small areas in lawn or yard may be treated with carbolic acid after piercing each plant to the root with a skewer or pointed stick; or the weeds may be killed by deep cutting with hoe or spud. But rankly infested meadows and pastures should be plowed under, and a well-tilled hoed crop inserted in the rotation before reseeding.
Fig. 273. - Narrow-leaved Plantain (Plantago lanceo-lata). X 1/4.