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Plantago cordata Lamarck. King-root, Heartleaf Plantain. Phen: Mar-May; May-Jul. Hab: Aquatic or semi-aquatic in streambeds with outcrops of slate, limestone, or calcareous clay, and aquatic in tidal estuaries. Dist: NY and s. ON west to WI, south to w. VA, c. NC, nw. GA, AL, sc. TN, and MO, very scattered and rare in every state in which it occurs, except MO. P. cordata is not known to be extant in VA, where it formerly occurred in the estuary of the Potomac River and in Smyth County in sw. VA. In NC, P. cordata is apparently limited to two slate-bottomed streams in s. Davidson County.

ID notes:Characteristically, P. cordata is a very robust plant, the inflorescences up to 1 meter in height, and the glabrous leaves with ovate blades to 30 cm long and 20 cm wide, on ascending petioles up to 40 cm long and 2 cm wide. Winter leaves are 3-10 cm long, ca. 1 cm wide, and remotely toothed. Spring leaves show a gradual transition from the winter form to the summer form.

Origin/Endemic status: Native

Taxonomy Comments: A study of morphological and genetic variability in the species found the two NC populations to "represent sites of primary [conservation] concern with unique genetic composition" (Mymudes & Les 1993).

Synonymy: = Ar, C, F, FNA17, G, GW2, Il, K1, K3, K4, Mi, NY, RAB, S, Tn, Va, W, Bassett (1967), Rosatti (1984)

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: OBL
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont: OBL
  • Midwest: OBL
  • Northcentral & Northeast: OBL

Heliophily: 6

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image of plant© Alan M. Cressler | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan M. Cressler | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Radford, Ahles and Bell | Original Image ⭷


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