Herbs rarely shrubby, with radical leaves and the flowers in a spike on a scape. Flowers regular, tetramerous. Stamens 4, alternate with the lobes of the corolla and inserted on its tube. Anthers versatile, filaments usually slender and exserted. Fruit a membranous pyxis, with 1, 2, or many albuminous seeds.
Genera 8, species 200, most abundant in temperato climates, scattered throughout all conn-tries of the globe. Properties unimportant.
PLANTA'GO, L. Plantain. Ribwort. Sepals 4, membranous, persistent; corolla monopetalous; border 4-toothed, spreading, persistent and withering on the fruit; stamens 4 (rarely 2), the long, slender filaments exserted, or in some of the fls. included ; ovary 2 (-4)-eelled ; pyxis membranous, opening below the middle by a lid, when the loose dissepiment falls out with the seeds.-(Herbs acaulescent.) Fls. small, whitish, in a slender spike raised on a scape.
§ Stamens uniformly exserted. Corolla lobes spreading. Flowers reniforn. (a)
a Seeds 7 to 16. Leaves broadly ovate, 7-veined. Spiek dense........................
a Seeds 4 only. Leaves oblong or cordate, 3 to 7-veined..........................
Nos. 2, 3
a Seeds 2 ony. Leaves lanceolate. Scape tall..........................................
Nos. 4, 5
a Seeds 2 or 4. Leaves linear, fleshy.....................................................
Nos. 6, 7
§ Stamens mostly included, with short anthers. Flowers dimorphous? (b)
b Seeds 2 only. Corolla lobes roundish, reflexed. Leaves linear...............
b Seeds 2, rarely 3 or 4. Corolla lobes erect. Leaves lanceolate.................
b Seeds 4 to 20. Leaves linear. Plants very small.............................
Nos. 10, 11
1 P. major L. Common* Plantain' or Ribwort. Lvs. ovate, smoothish, somewhat toothed, palmately 7-irined, with long, channeled footstalks; scape round; fls. densely spiked; seeds 7 to 1G.- Common always at the door and by the wayside. The leaves are reputed a good external application for wounds, etc. The seeds arc eaten by sparrows and other small birds. Lvs. broad, flat, with about 7 veins, each containing a strong fibre which may bo pulled out. Scape 1 to 3f high, with a very long (5 to 20'), cylindric spike. Fls. white, inconspicuous, appearing in succession all summer. § Eur., &c
2 P. Rugelii Dene. Lvs. oblong or oblong-elliptical, obtuse, 3 to 5-veined, attenuated to a petiole; ped. slender, terete; spike cylindrical, more or less loose-flowered ; bracts aeutish, shorter than the smooth sepals.-Ala. (Decaisne in Prod. DC. XIII, p. 700). Allied to P. major, perhaps too nearly.
3 P. cordata Lam. Lvs. cordate-ovate, broad, smooth, subpinnately 5 to 7-veined, obscurely toothed; fls. loosely spicate, lower ones scattered, with ovate, obtuse, bracts; pyxis 4-seeded.- Can. to Tenn. and Gn., along streams. Our largest native species, nearly as large as P. major. Spikes 6 to 8' long, on scapes twice as high. Lvs. 3 to 6' long, more or less cordate at base. Cor. white, with obo-vate segments. Pyxis a third longer than the calyx, with 2 margined seeds in each cell. Jn., Jl
4 P. lanceolata L. Lvs. lanceolate, tapering at each end, petiole channeled; spike ovate or cylindric, dense; scape angular; tracts and cor. lobes acuminate.-
Can. to Ga. Common in pastures and grass lands. Easily known by its longer lvs. tapering at the base into a broad stalk, and with from 3 to 5 strong ribs; by its shorter spike (1 to 2' long), with dark colored corollas, and whitish, projecting stamens, and its slender, upright stalk (8 to 15' long) with prominent angles. Flowering from May to Oct. It is freely eaten by cattle.
5 P. sparsiflora Mx. Lvs. lanceolate or oblong, tapering at each end, petiole flat; ped. slender, terete, much longer than the lvs.; spike long, remotely-flowered, or interrupted; bracts, sepals and brown petals obtuse.-Moist pine barrens, S. Car. and Ga. (Curtis). Plant usually smooth often pubescent below. Flowers all summer. (P. interrupta Lam.)
6 P. maritima L. Lvs. linear, channeled, nearly entire, woolly at base; spikes cylindrical, dense; scape round; posterior sep. concave and crested on the back.- Grows in salt marshes, along the const, Me. to N. J. It has a large perennial root sending up a scape varying, in height from 3' to If, and numerous, very fleshy, dark green, linear leaves, deeply grooved on the inside and 6 to 10' long. Spike slender, of numerous, subimbricate, whitish fls. Aug.
P. juncoides. Lvs. erect, entire, linear, fleshy, attenuated to the subacute apex, bearded at base; scapes terete, scarcely longer than the lvs.; spikes oblong, nostly loose-flowered; bracts orbicular-ciliate; sep. not crested.-Salt marshes, N. J. Plant more slender than the preceding. Jl. (P. maritima β. Poir.)
8 P. aristata Mx. Lvs. linear, erect, villous; ped. terete, longer than the leaves; spikes cylindrical, dense-flowered, villous when young; bracts attenuated to long, setaceous, rigid awns; cor. lobes round-cordate, uniformly colored, conspicuous; seeds large, finely punctate in lines.-Prairies in Ill., abundant at Odin's Station. Lvs. 3 to 4' long. Ped. with spike about 9' high, the latter beset with awns 3 to 6 to 8" long. Jn., Jl. (P. Patagonica Gray.)
9 P. Virginica L. Lesser Plantain. Lvs. obovate-lanceolate, hoary pubescent, subdenticulate; scape angular; spikes cylindric, pubescent, dense-flowered above, often loose-flowered below; seeds rarely more than 2; bracts shorter than the filiate sep.-A biennial species on sandy or stony hills in the southern part of N. Eng. and N. Y. to Ga. and La. Much smaller than P. major. The whole plant is covered with soft, gray pubescence. Scape 4 to 8' high, hairy. Lvs. 2 to 3' long, narrowed at base into petioles, obtuse at the end. Cor. yellowish, with very acute segments, erect when including the stamens.. Jl (P. purpuruseens Nutt ?)
10 P. heterophylla Nutt. Lvs. linear, entire, and with a few slender teeth or lobes, attenuate at each end; ped. many, slender, as long as the lvs; spikes loose-flowered ; cor. closed upon the conical fruit, the short lobes crowning it as a crest; pyxis 10 to 20-seeded.- Wet grounds. Md. to La. Small and slender. Scape almost threadlike, 4 to 7' high, lvs. about 3'. (P. pusilla Dene. P. Ludo-viciana Riddell.)
11 P. pusilla Nutt. Lvs. linear, entire, thin, pubescent; scapes longer than the lvs., very slender, with scattered or approximate fls; fr. scarcely longer than the calyx, crowned with the cor. lobes, 4-seeded.- The smallest species of the genus, 1 to 6' high, in dry soils, N. Y. to Ga. and W. States. (P. perpusilla Dene.)