Low plant, up to 2 feet tall, but may be very small where mowing is fequent. Leaves broadly oval with marked veins, all basal, often with wavy or weakly toothed edges. Base of leafstalks usually marked with red or purple. Flowers very tiny, green, in a long, crowded spike on top of a long green stalk. Blooms summer into fall. Fruits tiny elongated capsules that dry up, turn brown, and split well below the middle to release the black seeds. Fruits that split in half to release seeds are called pyxides, singular pyxis.
Native, but a troublesome weed of waste places, lawns and gardens. In Wildwood, very common along the bikeway and Wildwood Drive and near the Main Street entrance, especially in areas that are mowed. Often side-by-side with the alien broad-leaved plantain.
A familiar lawn weed. The alien broad-leaved plantain (P. major) is very similar, but the leaf stalks are usually completely green. Certain identification requires examining the fruits; the pyxides of broad-leaved plantain are more rotund and split right about the middle ro release brown seeds. Dwarf plantain (P. virginica) is also similar, but much smaller and has hairy leaves and stems. English plantain (P. lanceolata) has relatively narrow leaves, and the flowers are in a short, brown spike at the end of a long stalk.