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, back of the border and 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 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest early fall, late summer, midsummer
  • 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 alone 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 leaves (deltate), 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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