Hasteola suaveolens (Sweet-smelling Indian Plantain)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Endangered
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to wet; wet meadows, stream and riverbanks, marsh edges, fens, floodplain forest
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:3 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] A few to several stalked flower heads in flat-topped branching clusters at the tip of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils. Flower heads are about ¼ inch across, made up of 20 or more creamy-white (rarely pinkish) disk flowers, each with a column of yellow-tipped stamens and a brown style with a pale, split tip that extends slightly above the disk flower petals. Bracts are in 2 series, the inner forming a cylindrical tube up to ½ inch long with 10 to 15 linear, creamy-white to greenish bracts. The outer bracts are slender, green and spreading. Flower stalks are green and hairless with a narrow, green bract at the base of the stalk, sometimes 1 or more further up the stalk.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, hairless, coarsely and sharply toothed, tapering to a sharply pointed tip. The lower leaves are largest, up to 10 inches long and 6 inches wide, triangular to arrowhead-shaped, straight across the bottom with a pair of outward-pointing triangular lobes at the base (hastate) and abruptly tapering to a winged stalk. Leaves become smaller with shorter stalks and smaller basal lobes as they ascend the stem, with the uppermost leaves typically more lance-shaped and stalkless or nearly so.

[photo of stem] Stems are unbranched except in the flower clusters, hairless and ridged or grooved. It may create colonies through spreading rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

Fruit is a dry, light brown seed with a tuft of white hairs to carry it off in the wind.


Sweet-smelling Indian Plantain, known in some references as Cacalia suaveolens, Senecia suaveolens or Synosma suaveolens, is an uncommon to rare species throughout much of its range. In Minnesota it is found primarily in wet meadows and marsh edges along streams and rivers in our southeast counties. According to the DNR, these wetland habitats have been largely drained for commercial and agricultural use and the scattered remaining remnants are at risk from agricultural runoff as well as invasive species. It was listed as a state Endangered species in 1984 and fewer than 15 known populations remain, though it does occasionally appear in restoration plantings in other locations (the Le Sueur County record is likely one of these). It is easily distinguished from other Indian Plantains (Arnoglossum spp.) by the hastate leaves.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in restoration plantings in Hennepin and Winona counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kenny h - Cedar River Austin
on: 2017-08-02 21:06:26

Found this in the flood plain...20 feet from the river...first discovered it there in 2009...took many photos.

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