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.

Posted by: Bill Carter - Winona County
on: 2019-08-13 12:00:27

Our very wet 2019 summer has resulted in many more plants found scattered about our farm and I'm noticing them as they are getting ready to bloom. Around here they seem to thrive with light shade and soggy soil.

Posted by: Tom Burke - Aggressive in Gardens
on: 2019-10-14 12:39:03

We planted Hasteola suaveolens in our wet prairie gardens a few years ago and it is VERY aggressive in gardens, spreading via both rhizomes and seeds. It displaced the rosin weed and I have had to pull them out in other locations to prevent them from taking over.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-10-16 15:32:01

We have several rare species in our gardens, some of which are the worst weeds we have, thriving in cultivation without the conditions that make them rare in the wild.

Posted by: Debra A Rappold - Cedarburg Wi
on: 2020-02-28 21:31:12

Sweet indian plantain has taken over a wet ditch next to my house. It has spread and taken over the ditch and is now heading into my prairie. I am now spraying it. The plantains may be rare in the wild but can get wildly out of control even in restorations. The bees and butterfly's love this plant. As long as it stays in the ditch its fine but it is starting to wander where not wanted.

Posted by: Neil - Coldwater Spring
on: 2022-08-12 16:00:42

Wetland seepage near the southern prairie. Area was seeded in 2015, this was not in the seed mix. This plant is possibly remnant, but also could have snuck in the seed mix somehow. Either way it's beautiful and full of pollinators when blooming.

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