Botanical: Plantago major (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Plantaginaceae
Common names: broad-leaved plantain, ripple grass, waybread, slan-lus, waybroad, snakeweed, cuckoo's bread, englishman's foot, white man's foot, buckhorn plantain, dog's ribs, hock cockle, lance-leaved plantain, rub grass, dooryard plantain, round-leaved plantain, (Anglo-Saxon) weybroed, Che Qian Zi (China), Breitwegerich (German), Tanchagem-maior (Portuguese), Llantén común (Spanish), Llantén major (Spanish)
Plantain is a low-growing, green plant with oval, ribbed short-stemmed leaves. The leaves form basal rosettes which tend to hug the ground. The leaves may grow up to about 6" long and 4" wide, but tend to vary greatly in size depending on their soil and light conditions. Plantain sends up a leafless flower stock in summer/fall - the stalks can be up to ten inches tall.
There are over 200 species in the plantain family, and they are found worldwide. Many have herbal uses. Plantago major is the most common one in North America, but Plantago lanceolata can also be found. Both have the same medicinal uses, and are very similar in appearance. Plantago major has wide rounded leaves, with a flowering spike covered with small nubby seeds; Plantago lanceolata has longer, slender leaves, and a mostly bare flowering stem, with a conelike cluster of flowers on the top.