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This little plant is one of the native Plantago spp. (plantains). It doesn't invade lawns or become a significant nuisance unless the ground is sandy or gravelly. The basal leaves of Dwarf Plantain are less wide than those of Plantago rugelii (Black-Seeded Plantain) and Plantago major (Common Plantain); these latter two species are common weeds in lawns and paths. In sharp contrast to Dwarf Plantain, they have hairless leaves and flowering stalks. Several other plantains in Illinois have leaves that are more narrow than those of Dwarf Plantain; species in this group include Plantago aristata (Bracted Plantain), Plantago patagonica (Woolly Plantain), and Plantago pusilla (Small Plantain). Like Dwarf Plantain, these are native annuals that prefer dry sunny areas with sterile soil. They differ from each other primarily in the characteristics of their flowers and bracts.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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