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Plantain, Ribwort

Latin name: Plantago spp.

Plant description: ‘Weed’ with either long, lance-shaped leaves (e.g. P. lanceolata) or shorter elliptical leaves (e.g P. major). The flower-head is borne on a stalk and is dark brown and barrel-shaped with the pollen-producing, creamy-coloured anthers standing proud.

Distribution: UK: widespread in grassland, roadside verges and cultivated ground. Rest of World: extends from northern Europe through to southern Europe and into northern and central Asia, temperate parts of the USA, Australia, New Zealand and South America.

Allergenicity and other health impacts: Most members of the family contain allergenic proteins, causing seasonal allergic rhinitis and triggering asthma, but English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is the most highly allergenic.

Season: April to August. Concentrations tend to be low in the general airstream but higher near to the actual plants. Plantain is wind-pollinated.

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