T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Plantago australis (Mexican plantain)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Eudicots
(Unranked):        Asterids
Order:       Lamiales
Family:      Plantaginaceae
Subfamily: Plantagineae
Genus:      Plantago
Species:  P. australis
Binominal name: Plantago australis
Common names: Mexican plantain, Swamp plantain.

Plantago australis is a perennial growing to 0.2 m by 0.2 m. It originates from Southern North America, Venezuela to Peru in South America. In New Zealand it was naturalised in 1883 and is now scattered throughout both islands. It is rare in the East. It grows sandy, loamy or clay soils. It cannot grow in the shade. Its habitats are usually wetland margins but occasionally it will grow in dry sandy areas.

It is a sparsely hairy herb with lance-shaped leaves lying close to the ground arising from a central point. They are up to 1-20 cm long with parallel veins. The leaves can often be often purple, sometimes very short and ill-defined with woolly tuft at base.
The flowers appears on a scape (flowers stalk) >60cm in the centre of leaves. The cylindrical 10 cm plus long spike (flowerhead) is at the top and consists of many inconspicuous small brown flowers (>5 mm long) arranged on the elevated axis. The flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by the wind. The plant is self-fertile. Flowering occurs November to January.





The top surface of a leaf.


The under surface of a leaf.