See also: Buckhorn plantain
Broadleaf plantain is a common broadleaf weed in lawns. It is a cool-season perennial weed found practically in any habitat. The leaves are arranged in a rosette and have prominent veins. Depending on the species, leaves and stems may range from purplish to dark green in color and may be smooth or densely covered with short hairs. Seed heads are "rattail-like" and 5" - 10" long.
Both buckhorn, or narrow-leaved plantain (Plantago lanceolata), and broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) are perennial weeds that reproduce by seeds. Both produce a rosette or cluster of leaves at ground level and have fibrous root systems. The leaves of buckhorn plantain are narrow and lance-shaped (2" - 10" long – about five times as long as wide), often twisted or curled. Raised, parallel veins can be found on the underside of the leaf.
As the name suggests, the leaves of broadleaf plantain are broad and egg-shaped – 1½" - 7" long – with several main veins running parallel to the leaf margins. The petioles are sometimes tinged with red at the base.
Both plantains produce erect flower stalks from June to September. Buckhorn plantain produces a cone-like spike of white flowers perched at the top of the leafless flower stalk. Broadleaf plantain produces white-petaled flowers along the length of a leafless flower stalk that may be 2" - 18" long. Seed germinates in late spring through midsummer and sporadically in early fall.
Hand pulling is a simple, practical approach for small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2" - 3" layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds. Post emergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass in your lawn. Optimum timing of post emergence herbicides is mid-autumn.