Ribwort Plantain

Botanical name – Plantago lanceolata

Family – Plantaginaceae

Ribwort Plantain general information

Ribwort Plantain

Ribwort Plantain can reach a height of 50cm if left undisturbed, but it can also adapt and grow as a flat rosette in managed turf

Ribwort plantain is a very common weed, with its distinctive long, narrow leaves and clusters of erect plantain like flower heads. The flower heads (refer to a ‘soldiers by children’) have been used to play games by generations of children.

Ribwort plantain has various medicinal uses. The leaves are used in herbal teas as a remedy for coughs, hay fever and asthma, they can also be used to make a soothing cream to treat sores and insect bites.

Ribwort Plantain

The weed in early stages of growth at the start of the growing season

This plant is a rosette forming perennial with a fibrous root system. When it is left undisturbed in roadside verges or grassy areas it can grow nearly 50cm tall. In mown turf it will grow as a flat rosette that adapts to the height to which the grass is being cut, making it a troublesome turf and lawn weed.

Ribwort Plantain

This weed reproduces via seed and has a shallow fibrous root system. Plantains are often found on compacted soils and can be an indication that some form of remedial action, such as aeration, needs to be taken to correct the problem. Ribwort plantain thrives in alkaline conditions and is tolerant of dry soils

Ribwort plantain identification

The dark green leaves, which form as a rosette at the base of the plant, are long and narrow (lanceolate), typically between 10 – 30cm long. Each leaf, which tapers into a pointed tip has a smooth surface and between 3 -5 parallel prominent veins. The leaves are somewhat narrower than those of greater plantain.

Ribwort plantain flower heads

The flowers are bourne on several long grooved stalks, with the flower heads measuring between 10 – 20mm in length. Each flower head bears greenish – white flowers, which turn into seed pods producing between 10 and 20 seeds each.

Ribwort Plantain Roots

Ribwort plantain has a fibrous root system

Prevention and control of ribwort plantain

Using a small knife or grubber this weed can be removed by hand, taking care to remove the whole of the plant from the soil.

Close regular mowing prevent the weed from reproducing by removing the seeds heads before they have chance to form.

Maintain good turf vigour with a balanced feed program to help prevent weeds from invading.

Aerate on a regular basis to help relieve soil compaction.

Irrigate during dry periods to help the grass maintain good turf vigour and sward density.

Ribwort plantain can be controlled using a selective herbicide. Remember to always try and keep chemical use to a minimum and treat the weed only when necessary. In many cases this weed can be spot treated, especially if the infestation is in the early stages and the plants are few in number.

It is any easy weed to control with a selective herbicide and most products available will take care of it with a single treatment, rarely is is a follow up treatment needed.

Recommended products for the control of ribwort plantain

Professional products (The user requires the appropriate certificate/s to apply these products)

  • Headland Relay Turf (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)
  • Headland Cabadex (Fluroxypyr, Flurosulam)
  • React Ultra (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)
  • Everris Praxys (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, Fluosulam)
  • Bayer Longbow (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)
  • Barclay Holster XL (2,4-D, Fluroxypyr, Dicamba)
  • Mascot Greenor (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
  • Mascot Junction (2,4-D, Flurosulam)
  • Mascot Crossbar (2,4-D, Flurosulam, Dicamba)
  • Vitax Esteem (2,4-D, Clopyralid, MCPA)

Products available for non-professional use (These products are available from garden centres and DIY stores.)

  • Verdone extra (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
  • Resolva lawn weed killer (2,4-D, Mecoprop-p, MCPA, Dicamba)
  • Doff lawn spot weeder (2,4-D, Mecoprop-p, Dichlorprop-p)
  • Vitax Lawn Clear (2,4-D, Clopyralid, MCPA)
  • Vitax Green up weed & feed (Dicamba, MCPA)
  • Weedol lawn weed killer (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
  • Scotts lawn builder weed & feed (2,4-D, Dicamba)