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  1. 88 Ribwort Plantain
  2. 88_0 Photo by Peter Houghton
  3. 88_1 Photo by Peter Houghton

Ribwort Plantain

Plantago lanceolata


  • A tussock-like, rosette plant.
  • Size: tussock up to 30 cm high and wide with a flower stalk up to 1 m high.
  • Leaves: long, sword-shaped and forming a clump. Each individual leaf is 8 – 20 cm long, 1 – 3 cm wide and usually stands upright. There are five veins running down each leaf.
  • Flowers: 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.
  • Fruit/seed: a black to brown seed pod, 3 – 4 mm long contains 1 – 2 yellow to pale brown seeds.

What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower (at the base of a cluster)
  • Full flowering (record all days)
  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect plants to start shooting and flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas, as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

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

Where To Look

  • In all Australian states except the Northern Territory.
  • In woodland, grassland, disturbed sites, pastures, lawns and gardens in coastal and inland regions.
  • Look in gardens and disturbed areas, for examples sports ovals and roadsides.

Ribwort Plantain distribution map - GBIF

Ribwort Plantain distribution map - GBIF

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.



Auld BA and Medd RW 1992. Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne.

Australian Biological Resources Study 1982. Flora of Australia, Volume 32. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study.


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  1. What Else?

    Variable Plantain (Plantago varia): its 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. Also, its flower stem can be shorter, only growing to a height of about 36 cm.

  1. Did You Know?

    It is classified as a weed in some areas and it may contribute to hayfever.

    It is native to Europe and northern and central Asia.