Bucks Horn Plantain

A couple of weeks ago K emailed and asked me if I could identify the weed shown below, noting she had seen it ranging ‘in size from a 10c piece to palm of my hand sized just smaller or larger versions of the same’.

Bucks horn plantain

This plant grows in cracks at my place but until now I dismissed it as a nameless weed.

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I had seen this plant growing in a few spots in my lawn closest to my well mulched and composted  Blueberry garden bed, but knew nothing more. Simply I assumed it was on no value except for its greenness.

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Soon afterwards, K bounced back with the name; it was the Bucks Horn Plantain.

Online, Agriculture Victoria provided the information ‘There are two subspecies of Buck’s Horn Plantain. Plantago coronopus subsp. Coronopus has flower spikes which are much longer than its leaves and tends to occur in more coastal regions. Plantago coronopus subsp. Commutata from more inland areas has flower spikes which are shorter than its leaves.’ My Bucks Horn Plantain get mowed and I don’t remember seeing the flower spikes so cannot identify which subspecies I am growing.

I was astounded to read on The Backyard Larder; ‘I made a salad with buck’s horn plantain (Plantago coronopus), also know in Italy as ‘minutina’ or ‘erba stella’ (the latter seems to translate as star herb or star grass, and I’ve also seen it named ‘star-of-the-earth’).’ Since reading this information I have nibbled on the leaves while gardening and found they have a refreshing flavour that is edged with a slight but very palatable bitterness.

Based on this new knowledge, I have replanted a few from my lawn into their own pot and hope they will survive. I plan to cultivate these ‘weeds’ for my salad greens through winter.

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In 1975 Tasmania’s Department of Agriculture published a Weed Book. On page 105 I learned Bucks Horn Plantain ‘… is a weed of waste and neglected areas. It can withstand trampling. Germination occurs in the autumn. Flowers mainly during spring and summer but can flower throughout the year. Spreads by seed. Seed can remain dormant in soil, forming a persistent seed bank.’ My plants have been part of the neglected lawn and directly under foot in one of my thoroughfares; clearly it copes with being trodden on. Because this plantain is listed as an invasive weed, brought in from Europe, I must watch my plants and ensure they don’t seed.

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