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Plantago major


Plantago major

Family Name: Plantaginaceae
Common Name: Common Plantain, White-man's Foot, Cart-track-plant, 大车前


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Throughout Europe, northern and central Asia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Perennial herb up to 15-45 cm tall.
Roots It has a taproot system.
Foliage Oval-shaped leaves (15 cm long, 10 cm wide) are arranged in a rosette which lies close to the ground. They have a ribbed leaf texture with about 5 prominent veins that lie parallel to each other.
Flowers Small, greenish white flowers are arranged in a long spike inflorescence (15-45 cm long).
Fruits Dry, egg-shaped fruits are known as capsules (3-5 mm long). It splits open horizontally in the middle, releasing 5-16 brown to dark brown, irregularly shaped seeds. 
Habitat Can be found in gardens, urban sites, roadsides and other disturbed places with compacted and soggy soil.
Cultivation It grows best in full sun and moist soil, but tolerates partial shade and dry soils.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers)
Food (Herb and Spice : The young leaves are used in salad, steamed and used as a substitute for spinach. Immature inflorescence is also edible, raw or cooked. The leaves, seeds and roots can all be made into an herbal tea.)
Medicinal (

Scientific Evidence of Medicinal Properties

In pre-clinical trials, Common Plantain showed pain-relieving (Guillén et al., 2008), anti-cancer (Ozaslan et al., 2007), anti-diabetic (Alarcon-Aguilar et al., 2006), anti-inflammation (Türel et al., 2009), anti-microbial (Hetland et al., 2001), antioxidant (Oto et al., 2011), and cholesterol-lowering properties (Angarskaya & Sokolova, 1963) in animals.

Traditional Medicinal Uses

Research supports the traditional use of Common Plantain to treat stings, bites, rashes and sunburn, as it may help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.  

It is important to note that some therapeutic effects from traditional medicinal uses of plants are not currently supported or verified by scientific research. 


Landscaping Features

Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Easy to Grow
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Can grow in any type of soil.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Food Plant
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Rosulate / Rosette
Foliar Attachment to Stem Sessile
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Rounded
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse, Attenuate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Inflorescence Type Spike
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Flower Colour(s) Remarks Greenish white

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Several (11-20)

Image Repository



Master ID 1051
Species ID 5294
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 02 October 2022.