SEA PLANTAIN

Plantago maritima

Plantain Family [Plantaginaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8brown
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ4
type
typeZspiked
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
half

19th July 2007, sea wall facing Barrow in Furness, Walney Island. Photo: © RWD
Flowering spikes amidst a mat of green linear leaves.


31st Aug 2018, shoreline, Southport, Lancs Photo: © RWD
In a later stage of development. They do like an isolated sunny spot on concrete walls wherever they have access to a bit of soil.


8th June 2007, Arnside rocky shore, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD


21st June 2008, sea-ward Promenade, Port Erin, Isle of Man. Photo: © RWD
Brownish flowers with prominent pale yellow anthers.


27th July 2012, shoreline, Southport, Lancs Photo: © RWD
Only occasionally are they not isolated, but in larger spreading gatherings in the drier parts of the higher saltmarshes.


8th June 2015, shoreline, Silverdale, Lancs Photo: © RWD
The leaves are long and linear, eventually tapering slowly to a blunt tip. They are flattish and slightly curved into a crescent moon cross-section.


27th July 2012, shoreline, Southport, Lancs Photo: © RWD
Here follows the timeline of the flower spike as perceived by your Author:
A densely populated spike of as-yet unopened flowers-to-be. Looking like pale green ladybirds all packed together vertically around the single hair flowering stem. Stem hairs are short and appressed to the stem in an upwards direction.


27th July 2012, shoreline, Southport, Lancs Photo: © RWD
The stem extends separating the ladybird-shaped flowers, which are a paler green around each side.


3rd June 2010, shore, Walney Island, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Now well separated from each other the paper-thin petals have emerged.


27th July 2012, shoreline, Southport, Lancs Photo: © RWD
It is just the bottom flowers which are now withering which are widely separated, the middle ones are now flowering with their many yellow anthers on very thin white filaments. The upper parts have yet to flower.


8th June 2015, shore, Arnside, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The flowering stage passes from bottom to the top and has now reached to near the top.
Those at the bottom of the photo are only displaying their 4 paper-thin now purple petals, numbering 4.
The middle of this photo shows both petals, new anthers and the long furry white stigma poking out from the centre of the flowers.
The top part of the flowering spike shows the developing bright-purple tapering fruit poking out from the surrounding green sepals. At the tip of the fruit is the white hairy style.


19th July 2007, Walney Island, land-side shore. Photo: © RWD
Brownish flowers with prominent long pale yellow stamens. In amidst the anthers are the styles which are long (but not as long as the stamens plus filaments), very pale green and tapering to a tip with microscopically jagged edges. The brown ovals atop are the fruits, still with the styles attached.


3rd July 2010, shore, Arnside, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Initially obscured by a profusion of large creamy-coloured anthers on extended filaments the four-petalled flowers are here visible, being almost transparent with a reddish streak along the centre-line.


3rd July 2010, shore, Arnside, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The brown-beaked four-segment anthers are on very long white filaments placed to one side. With their 'beaks' and broad flat bodies they look like machines from the film 'War of the Worlds'.


27th July 2012, shoreline, Southport, Lancs Photo: © RWD
The petals have now faded to near-white; the anthers spent and now orange-brown apart from 4 on the right which are still yellow and fresh.


3rd June 2010, shore, Walney Island, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Browning spent anthers now droop over the petals. Several white hairy stigmas are to be found all over.


8th June 2015, shoreline, Silverdale, Lancs Photo: © RWD
Your Author thinks this specimen is turning to fruit, which are the reddish things poking out of the tops of the green 'shells'. The stigmas are now very short and at the tips of many of the emerging fruits.


15th Aug 2014, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
These browned fruits may have now shed their cargo of seeds. Note the thin, white remnants of a few persistent petals.


15th Aug 2014, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The stems are flattish with a slight (or here pronounced) crescent shape in cross-section. There are 5 holes running the length of the stems, each filled with a paler-green rod. Some rods have broken off slightly proud of the break whilst others have broken off short within the tubes which now look empty (but then you can't see much deeper down than ~1mm).


8th June 2015, shoreline, Silverdale, Lancs Photo: © RWD
The leaves are linear over most of their length before slowly tapering to a blunt tip. They are flattish with a distinctive crescent-shaped cross-section.


21st June 2008, sea-ward Promenade, Port Erin, Isle of Man. Photo: © RWD
Very long, flattish leaves, with a slight longitudinal curl, without cuts or downy hairs.


Some similarities to : Buck's-horn Plantain but that has thick fleshy and slightly downy leaves which although of similar shape, are usually but not always deeply cut. Sea Plantain has fleshy, linear smooth and mostly un-cut (but some can be slightly cut) leaves. The leaves also have between 3 and 5 faint veins on the obverse. Sea Plantain has a longer flower-head than does Buck's-horn Plantain. The most obvious difference between the leaves is that Sea Plantain has leaves with a crescent-shaped cross-section (whereas the leaves of a Buck's-horn Plantain are flat).

Not to be semantically confused with : Robin's Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) which is a member of the Daisy & Dandelion Family (Asteraceae).

Distinguishing Feature : Grows near the sea on rocks, stone, or concrete sea-walls, and on salt-marshes and bare ground by the sea, or on mountains. Leaves linear with few or no side-lobes and have a crescent-shaped cross-section.

No relation to : any of the Water-Plantains such as Water-Plantain itself, which instead belong to the Water-Plantain Family (Alismataceae).


  Plantago maritima  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Plantaginaceae  

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Plantago
(Plantains)

SEA PLANTAIN

Plantago maritima

Plantain Family [Plantaginaceae]  

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