Plantago cordata Lam.
Family: Plantaginaceae
Heart-Leaf Plantain
Plantago cordata image
Morton Arboretum  
Annual herb with long, fleshy roots flowering stem to 30 cm tall Leaves: basal, long-stalked, 12 - 25 cm long, 8 - 20 cm wide, egg- to heart-shaped, fleshy, with lateral veins arising from the midvein. Inflorescence: a thin, loose spike of many flowers, arising from a leafless stalk (scape), to 30 cm long, about 1 cm wide, interrupted and exposing axis. Flowers: stalkless or nearly stalkless, whitish, tiny, under 1 mm wide, subtended by round to egg-shaped bracts. Stamens four, exserted, alternate with corolla lobes. Style one. Sepals: four, green, 3 - 3.5 mm long, about as long as bracts, broadly rounded to egg-shaped with a rounded or blunt tip, nearly flat, narrowly scarious-margined (dry, thin, and membranous), with a narrow keel. Fruit: a dehiscent capsule (circumscissile), 0.5 - 1 cm long, egg-shaped. Seeds two to four, dark brown, 3 - 4 mm long, moist and slimy. Corolla: four-lobed, whitish, under 1 mm wide, scarious (dry, thin, membranous).

Similar species: This species is easily distinguished from other Plantago by its hollow scapes and heart-shaped leaves with lateral veins that arise from the midvein.

Flowering: mid-April to mid-May

Habitat and ecology: Rare in the Chicago Region, usually found growing in shaded areas along or in clear, cool, gravel-bottom streams. It has a preference for calcareous habitats.

Occurence in the Chicago region: native

Etymology: Plantago comes from the Latin word planta, meaning footprint. Cordata means heart-shaped, referring to the leaves.

Author: The Morton Arboretum

Glabrous perennial with several long, fleshy roots 0.5-1.3 cm thick; principal lvs cordate-ovate, mostly 12-25 נ8-20 cm, the main lateral veins not parallel to the margin, tending to arise from the proximal part of the midvein within the blade, scapes to 3 dm, stout and hollow; spikes to 3 dm, interrupted, the axis exposed; bracts and sep about equal, broadly round-ovate, nearly flat, with very narrow keel, herbaceous sides, and narrow scarious margins, obtuse or rounded at the tip; fr ovoid, 5-10 mm, circumscissile at or just below the middle; seeds 2(-4), 3-4 mm, smooth, mucilaginous; 2n=24. Semiaquatic, in marshes and along streams, especially on calcareous substrate; O. and s. Ont. to Wis. and Mo., and occasionally to N.Y., Va., N.C., Ga. and Ala.; now rare. Mainly spring.

Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.

©The New York Botanical Garden. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Reported from Kosciusko County and from the Lower Wabash Valley. It is extremely rare. I have found it in a small open ditch in Wells County, in a low woods in Knox County which was inundated much of the time, and in an open ditch in a woods in the southeast corner of Whitley County.