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Prairie Indian Plantain

Prairie Indian Plantain
Photo Information
Copyright: John Denk (jpdenk) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 307 W: 3 N: 74] (333)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-06-04
Categories: Flowers
Camera: Nikon D90, Sigma 70-300 4-5,6 APO
Exposure: f/8, 1/400 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Wildflowers of the World, Plants of the Chicago region [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-06-05 8:43
Viewed: 3954
Points: 4
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Prairie Indian Plantain, Arnoglossum plantagineum, synonyms include Cacalia tuberosa and Cacalia plantaginea, is a fine native perennial of native grassland, usually wet grassland around here, habitat that is now very rare in Illinois, so this plant is now very uncommon to rare here.

These were growing near a swale in the Bartel Grassland. The flowers are not open yet and will appear at the top of the interesting structures in the terminal clusters.

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Asterales
Family Asteraceae Aster family
Genus Arnoglossum Raf. Indian plantain
Species Arnoglossum plantagineum Raf.

More information from the Illinois Wildflower site:

Description: This native perennial plant is about 3-4' tall and unbranched, except near the inflorescence. The stout central stem is hairless, and often has red and green stripes running along its length. The alternate leaves are up to 8" long and 4" across, becoming smaller and fewer as they ascend the central stem. Their texture is thick and rubbery. These leaves are hairless and broadly ovate. Their margins are smooth or have widely spaced blunt teeth; they are often whitish or reddish in appearance.

At the apex of the plant, the inflorescence branches into several flattened clusters of greenish white flowerheads, each cluster spanning 2-6" across. Each flowerhead within a cluster looks like an unopened bud however, closer inspection reveals 5 white flowers surrounded by 5 green bracts with white stripes. The corolla of each tiny flower is divided into 5 lobes. There is no noticeable scent to these flowers. The blooming period lasts about a month and occurs from early to mid-summer. The root system is tuberous and coarsely fibrous.

Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun and moist conditions. This plant can withstand standing water, but not severe drought. The soil should be rich in organic material, and either a high or low pH is tolerated. Foliar disease doesn't appear to be troublesome.

Range & Habitat: This uncommon plant occurs primarily in NE Illinois, and scattered counties elsewhere. At one time, large populations of Prairie Indian Plantain occurred in wetland areas, particularly in the Chicago region, but they have been largely destroyed by modern development. This plant still occurs in such habitats as moist to mesic black soil prairies, dolomite prairies, savannas, thickets, moist meadows near rivers, limestone glades, marshes, fens, remnant bogs, and calcareous seeps. In developed areas, it may occur along ditches near railroads and roadsides. This is an indicator plant of high quality habitat.

Faunal Associations: The flowers appear to attract only a few insect visitors. Those that have been observed include Sphecodes dichroa (Parasitic Halictid Bee sp.), Myzinum quinquecincta (Five-Banded Tiphiid Wasp), Lycaena hyllus (Bronze Copper butterfly), Cisseps fulvicollis (Yellow-Collared Scape Moth), and Lygaeus turcicus (Lygaeid Bug sp.). These insects were seeking nectar. There is little or no information available about this plant's relationship to birds and mammalian herbivores. Because the foliage is neither toxic nor particularly coarse, it seems likely that mammalian herbiovores feed on it occasionally.

Comments: While the flowerheads are not particularly showy, the thick rubbery leaves provide this plant with a presence that is quite interesting and different. This is the only member of the genus Arnoglossum with plantain-shaped lower leaves. The other members of the genus have lower leaves that are wider and more angular, which is probably an accommodation to the lower light levels of the woodland habitats in which they are more likely to occur. While this is often thought to be a wetland species, it also occurs in mesic black soil prairies.

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To tuslaw: Thanksjpdenk 2 06-06 19:55
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Critiques [Translate]

nice capture, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2752 W: 280 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2010-06-05 20:43]
  • [+]

Hello John,
A great shot of this particular flowering plant. Nicely composed and depicting excellent detail and natural colors. Super exposure allowing the whitish buds to be seen very clearly and with good contrast.
I wanted to see what the flowers looked like so I would know if I ever came across this plant while in the field, so I looked it up. They actually are quite attractive and kind of remind me of butterfly weed in appearance. TFS.

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