Greater Plantain

Plantago major

  1. Wildlife
  2. Wildflowers
  3. Greater Plantain


Pushing its way up through the cracks in pavements, the long, straw-coloured flower spikes of Greater Plantain are a familiar sight to many of us. This persistent plant also grows in lawns, grasslands, field edges and other dry and grassy places. Commonly known as 'Rat's Tail' because of the scaly, tail-like appearance of its flowers, Greater Plantain blooms between June and October, but its leaves can persist through the winter in some areas.

How to identify

The broad, oval leaves of Greater Plantain form a rosette flush to the ground from which the yellow-green flower spikes rise up. The flowers are small and packed closely together and the leaves are tough and elastic and resilient to trampling.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Many of our so-called 'weeds' are beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of Greater Plantain and Red Clover in your lawn and Stinging Nettles near the compost heap, and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Greater Plantain
Latin name
Plantago major
Height: up to 20cm
Conservation status