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 Plantain Family
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Plantaginaceae (from the genus Plantago, the Latin name of the plant). Plantain Family. Annual or perennial herbs: leaves alternate or opposite: flowers bisexual, or rarely unisexual, regular; calyx 4-cleft; corolla 4-lobed, gamopetalous, hypogynous, scarious, imbricated; stamens 4, epipetalous or hypogynous, exserted, alternate with the corolla-lobes; ovary superior, 1-2-celled, rarely 4-celled; ovules 1 to many in each cell; style and stigma 1: fruit a circumscissile capsule, or an indehiscent nutlet, invested by the persistent calyx; seeds usually peltate.

Three genera and about 200 species, of which all but 3 belong to the genus Plantago, are distributed over the whole earth. The centers of distribution are the Mediterranean region and the Andes. This is a very distinct gamopetalous family of doubtful relationship, possibly allied to the Labiatae.

Many European species were formerly used in medicine; the seeds as mucilaginous emollients in inflammatory ophthalmia, and the like; the leaves as bitters. The seeds are used in India to stiffen muslins. Plantago lanceolata, P. Coronopus and P. major are eaten as greens. The seeds of several species are sold for feeding birds. P. lanceolata is used for early pasturage.

The family is not cultivated in N. America, except possibly for bird-seed, pasturage, or pond-border planting.


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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