Ribwort Plantain Amanda Emmett/ClimateWatcher

Ribwort Plantain

Did You Know?

  • Native to Europe and northern and central Asia
  • Classified as a weed in some areas and it may contribute to hayfever
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A tussock-like, rosette plant. Tussock size up to 30 cm high and wide with a flower stalk up to 1 m high.


Long, sword-shaped and forming a clump. Each individual leaf is 8 – 20 cm long and 1 – 3 cm wide and usually stands upright. There are 5 veins running down each leaf.


Small and initially cream, but turn brown rapidly. They grow on top of a ridged, 1 m high flower stem growing from the centre of the tussock of leaves. The flowers form a tight, cylindrical cluster which is 1 – 7 cm long.


A black to brown seed pod, 3 – 4 mm long contains 1 – 2 yellow to pale brown seeds.

Field Guide

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What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower

  • Full flowering (record all days)

  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)

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When and Where

When To Look

  • From September through to May
  • Flowers appear from September to April

Where To Look

  • In all Australian states except Northern Territory
  • In woodland, grassland, disturbed sites, pastures, lawns and gardens in coastal and inland regions
  • Look in gardens and disturbed areas like sports ovals and roadsides
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What Else?

Similar Species

Variable Plantain (Plantago varia) leaves usually have a toothed or jagged edge (not smooth like the Ribwort Plantain) and there is a dense tuft of reddish-brown hairs at the base of each leaf. Its flower stem can be shorter, only growing to a height of about 36 cm.