Content Detail

Pale Indian plantain is a herbaceous perennial with a large central stalk, silvery-coated, irregularly-shaped leaves, and a terminal, flat-topped inflorescence of white flowers surrounded by stiff green bracts. The late to midsummer flowers work for naturalizing, in the back of the border, and for cottage gardens.

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Native geographic location and habitat:

Found throughout North America in dry open woods, rocky woodlands, thickets, slopes, and along streams. C-Value: 8.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Attracts butterflies and other pollinators.

Leaf description:

It has alternate, low mounds of fan-shaped to triangular (deltate) leaves, similar to sycamore leaves, up to 12 inches wide. They are thick and leathery with a medium green upper surface and a lower surface with a grayish white bloom giving it a light green color. Margins have shallowly pointed lobes. Stems are reddish, glaucous, and smooth, with smaller palmately lobed leaves emerging further up the stem.

Flower description:

A thick, central stalk holds a flat-topped cluster (corymb) of tiny white tubular flowers which bloom mid-summer to early fall. Each disk flower has a cream-colored corolla with light green bracts. An insect (wasp, flies and bees) must cross pollinate flowers for plants to produce viable seeds.

Fruit description:

Fruit is an achene with tufts of white hairs.

Prairie Indian plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum):

A 3 to 4 foot high prairie wildflower with thick elliptical leaves and distinct parallel veins. A stout central stem has conspicuous red veins. Flowers are flat-topped clusters of small white flowers in early May through June.

Plant care:

Pale Indian plantain will grow in sun to part shade in well-drained soil and is tolerant of moist soil. It can be aggressive once established, due to prolific seed production.


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