Arnoglossum reniforme (Great Indian Plantain)
|Also known as:
|part shade, sun; floodplain forest, open woods
|June - August
|3 to 9 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Numerous stalked flower heads in flat-topped branching clusters, 5 to 12 inches across, at the tip of the stem and upper leaf axils. Flower heads are 1/6 to ¼ inch across, made up of about 5 greenish to white disk flowers, each with 5 tightly curled petals. Brown columns of yellow-tipped stamens and brown styles with split tips project well above the petals.
Below the flowers is a cylindrical tube, 1/3 to ½ inch long, of 5 greenish-white, rounded, oblong bracts. Cluster stalks are light green, hairless with longitudinal ridges and typically have 1 to 3 minute, scale-like bracts at the base.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple, thin, green on both sides and hairless. Basal leaves are mostly broadly kidney-shaped, to 15 inches wide, shallowly lobed or toothed around the edges, with 3 to 5 main veins and stalks up to 11½ inches long.
Stem leaves become smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem, more broadly egg-shaped in outline, typically with deeper, pointed lobes at the main veins and coarsely toothed around the edges. The stem is erect, unbranched, hairless, angled and grooved, often deep purple red.
Great Indian Plantain habitat is woodland margins and openings along floodplain terraces associated with dolomitic bedrock. Tracked by the MN-DNR since 1980, botanical surveys found only a few, small populations in our southeastern most counties, but mention that in 2010 a private landowner uncovered hundreds of plants after clearing buckthorn and box elder from his land in Mower County—good for him! Because the continuing loss of its habitat to agriculture, urbanization, damming and channeling of rivers poses an eminent threat to the species, it was listed as a state Threatened species in 2013. In older references, this species is known as Cacalia reniformis or sometimes Arnoglossum muehlenbergii (Cacalia muehlenbergii). A very similar species is Pale Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium), which is not known to occur in Minnesota but is present in eastern Wisconsin and is sometimes found in restoration plantings. Its stem is not angled, and leaves are very pale on the underside and more triangular in outline than those of A. reniforme.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Winona County, and in his backyard garden in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?