Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: June 8, 2021

Life cycle


Growth habit

Basal rosette of broad, oval leaves with 5 to 7 prominent, nearly parallel veins; small flowers clustered along tan-green, erect, leafless stalks less than 1-ft. tall; flower spikes have the appearance of a rigid cylindrical stalk with flowers and seeds formed along its length.


Seeds that attach to passing people and animals and hitch-hike to another location.

Conditions that favor growth 

Dry, compacted soil; infrequent or improper fertilizer applications

Management in lawns

Cultural lawn care practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.

Chemical treatment in lawns

Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Be aware of these lawn herbicide precautions first.

If you chose this option, spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients: 
2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba* or Triclopyr.

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Refer to the product label for precautions.