Invasive Watch: Broadleaf Plantain

broadleaf plantain

We’re here to keep you on your A-game by highlighting the best ways to identify, treat and control invasive plant species. In this Invasive Watch, we highlight the distinguishing features of broadleaf plantain and effective treatment strategies.   

What’s not to like about the broadleaf plantain (Plantago major)? Also known as white man’s foot or greater plantain, this perennial weed has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat everything from insect bites and bee stings to small wounds and slivers. But when you look past the home remedies and consider the environmental impact, the need to control the broadleaf plantain is obvious – especially for vegetation managers.

When working on roadsides, you are often focused on establishing and maintaining healthy stands of native grasses and compatible plant communities. Comparatively, total vegetation control is often the goal of many railroad applications. But the broadleaf plantain thrives on weak and patchy grassland, which can significantly impede the development of desirable low-growing plants and pose a risk to railway infrastructure. That’s why it’s important that vegetation managers know how to identify and control this deep-rooted weed.

What Does a Broadleaf Plantain Look Like?

Broadleaf plantains grow very close to the ground in flat rosettes. Their oval-shaped leaves can grow up to 15 inches long and feature multiple full-length ribs. These perennial weeds also feature spikes and tiny greenish-white flowers at their center, which hold thousands of seed capsules that remain viable for decades.

Where is Broadleaf Plantain Found?

The seeds of a broadleaf plantain are most often dispersed by wind, birds or human activity. As seeds can easily develop in compacted moist soils and various climates, the ability to travel by these mediums allow the broadleaf plantain to thrive in most regions throughout the United States. While newseeds commonly sprout in spring, the broadleaf plantain is most easily identifiable when its flowers are produced between June and September. 

How to Treat Broadleaf Plantain

Since mowing typically leaves the roots intact and can even support the distribution of seeds, selective herbicide applications are recommended for vegetation managers looking to improve productivity and program efficacy.

When applied at a rate of 2 to 2.85 ounces per acre, TerraVue™ herbicide can effectively treat areas in which broadleaf plantain or buckhorn plantain has developed. TerraVue is safe on grass and most beneficial forbs, so it can be used to effectively target broadleaf plantains as flowers develop throughout the summer and early fall. To ensure optimum results, applicators are encouraged to check the product label for appropriate usage rates.

TerraVue herbicide infographic
TerraVue herbicide infographic

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™ ® Trademarks of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. When treating areas in and around roadside or utility rights-of-way that are or will be grazed, hayed or planted to forage, important label precautions apply regarding harvesting hay from treated sites, using manure from animals grazing on treated areas or rotating the treated area to sensitive crops. See the product label for details. TerraVue is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.

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