Plantago maritima - sea plantain




pronounced: plan-tuh-jin-AY-see-eye

the plantain family


Plantago was the Roman name for the plantain, derived from planta, the sole of the foot. This genus, of about 200 species of small, inconspicuous plants commonly called plantains or fleaworts, shares its common name with, and should not be confused with, the very dissimilar plantain, a kind of banana, family Musaceae.

Plantaginaceae was, until recently, a very small family with only 3 genera, but has recently been completely reorganized (Judd et al.). Most of the Scrophulariaceae, the snapdragon family, have now been added. The resultant new family contains many diverse plants. The leaves vary so greatly that they are of little use in identification – the only thing that appears to be constant is that they are all simple leaves. In the flowers, the calyx and the corolla are both usually 4 – 5 lobed. The corolla is often 2-lipped. There is usually a nectary disk at the base of the ovaries, which are very numerous. All of the plants described in this website that were formerly listed in the Scrophulariaceae are now in the Plantaginaceae, and so no Scrophulariaceae are currently listed.


Illustration by Jacob Sturm, via Wikimedia Commons