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Buck's-horn Plantain

Plantago coronopus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Beaches, cliffs, fields, gardens, grassland, lawns, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

Brown, 4 petals
The flowers of Buck's-horn Plantain are not known for a strong or distinctive fragrance. They are relatively inconspicuous and greenish in color, and their primary function is for wind pollination rather than attracting pollinators with scent. As such, the plant is not sought after for its floral fragrance.
Buck's-horn Plantain does not produce fruits in the traditional sense. Instead, it forms small, capsule-like structures that contain tiny seeds. These capsules are not known for emitting any notable fragrance. The reproductive structures of the plant are more focused on seed dispersal rather than attracting organisms through scent. Consequently, the plant is not recognized for having fragrant fruits.
The name of this plant is derived from the shape of its leaves. They are said to resemble deer's antlers. The leaves are pale green, lance-shaped, up to 25cm long and 2.5cm wide. The leaf veins (3 to 5) run parallel to the edge of the leaves. The leaves taper into leaf stalks at their bases. The margins of the leaves may be smooth or slightly toothed.
Buck's-horn Plantain does not typically exhibit a strong fragrance. The plant is more renowned for its distinctive appearance and culinary uses rather than any notable scent. If there is any fragrance, it is generally mild and not a prominent characteristic of the plant.
Other Names:
Black Plantain, Black-jacks, Buck Plantain, Buckhorn, Buck's-beard, Chimney-sweeps, Cocks, English Plantain, Headsman, Hen Plant, Jackstraw, Kemps, Lamb's Tongue, Lance-leaved Plantain, Long Plantain, Narrow-leaved Plantain, Rat-tail, Ribblegrass, Rib-grass, Ripplegrass, Small Plantain, Snake Plantain, Soldier's Herb, Stag's-horn Plantain, Wendles.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Plantago coronopus, also known as Buck's-beard or Buck's-horn Plantain, is a small perennial herb that is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, but has naturalized in many parts of the world. It is a low-growing plant that can reach a height of 30 cm. The leaves are basal, rosette-forming, and are typically dark green, glossy and smooth. The leaves are slightly fleshy, triangular in shape and slightly toothed at the edges. The flowers are small, white or pink, and are arranged in a dense spike-like inflorescence on a stem that rises above the leaves.

Plantago coronopus is a hardy and adaptable plant that can be found in a wide range of habitats, including gardens, meadows, and roadsides. It prefers well-drained soils and full sun or partial shade. It is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, and can be aggressive and difficult to control once established.


Buck's-horn Plantain, also known as Plantago coronopus, is a small herbaceous plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. It belongs to the plantain family, Plantaginaceae, and is closely related to other common plantains such as Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata. Buck's-horn Plantain is a fascinating plant with a rich history of medicinal and culinary uses.

Description and Habitat

Buck's-horn Plantain is a small, clump-forming plant that typically grows to a height of 10 to 30 cm. It has a rosette of narrow, lance-shaped leaves that are glossy green and have a slightly curled edge. The plant produces a long, slender stem that bears small, inconspicuous flowers. The flowers are greenish-white and appear in summer.

Buck's-horn Plantain is a hardy plant that is well-adapted to a variety of growing conditions. It is commonly found in sandy or rocky soils along the coast and is often seen growing in disturbed areas such as roadsides, waste areas, and cultivated fields.


Buck's-horn Plantain has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The leaves have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, skin irritations, and respiratory infections. The plant contains several bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and tannins, which are believed to contribute to its medicinal properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Buck's-horn Plantain has culinary applications as well. The leaves are edible and can be used in salads, soups, and other dishes. They have a slightly bitter, nutty flavor and are rich in vitamins and minerals.


Buck's-horn Plantain is a relatively easy plant to grow and can be cultivated in a variety of soil types. It prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. The plant is drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering.

To propagate Buck's-horn Plantain, seeds can be sown directly into the soil in spring or fall. The seeds should be planted shallowly and kept moist until they germinate. The plant can also be propagated by division, by separating the plant into smaller clumps and replanting them.

Buck's-horn Plantain is a versatile and useful plant with a long history of medicinal and culinary uses. Its hardiness and adaptability make it an excellent choice for home gardens, and its unique flavor and nutritional value make it a valuable addition to any kitchen. Whether used for its health benefits or as a tasty ingredient in a salad, Buck's-horn Plantain is a plant that is well worth exploring.

Benefits for Health

Buck's-horn Plantain is believed to have a variety of health benefits due to its rich composition of bioactive compounds. Some of the potential benefits include:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: The plant contains several compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. This makes it potentially useful for reducing inflammation and swelling in the body.

  2. Antioxidant activity: Buck's-horn Plantain is rich in antioxidants, which help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This may have a beneficial effect on overall health and may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

  3. Wound healing: Buck's-horn Plantain has traditionally been used to treat wounds due to its antiseptic and astringent properties. It may help to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing.

  4. Respiratory health: The plant has been used traditionally to treat respiratory infections such as coughs and bronchitis. It is believed to have expectorant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may help to relieve symptoms.

  5. Digestive health: Buck's-horn Plantain has been used to treat a variety of digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion. It may have a beneficial effect on gut health due to its high fiber content and potential prebiotic activity.

In addition to these potential health benefits, Buck's-horn Plantain has also been used traditionally to treat a variety of other conditions, including skin irritations, eye infections, and urinary tract infections.


While Buck's-horn Plantain is generally considered safe, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. The plant may interact with certain medications, and it should not be used by individuals who are allergic to it or to other plants in the Plantaginaceae family. As with any herbal remedy, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider before using Buck's-horn Plantain for medicinal purposes.

Culinary Uses

Buck's-horn Plantain has a unique, slightly bitter flavor that makes it a great addition to salads and other dishes. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals such as calcium and iron.

One popular way to enjoy Buck's-horn Plantain is in a salad. The young leaves are tender and have a mild flavor, making them a great addition to mixed greens. To prepare, simply wash the leaves and toss them with your favorite dressing.

The leaves can also be used to make a tea. To prepare Buck's-horn Plantain tea, simply steep a handful of leaves in hot water for 5-10 minutes. The tea can be sweetened with honey or sugar if desired.

Another way to use Buck's-horn Plantain is in soups or stews. The leaves can be added to the pot and cooked until tender. They add a slightly nutty flavor and can help to thicken the soup.

In some cultures, Buck's-horn Plantain is used as a substitute for capers. The young flower spikes are harvested and pickled in vinegar or saltwater. They have a similar flavor to capers and can be used in the same way.

Growing Buck's-horn Plantain

Buck's-horn Plantain is a hardy plant that is easy to grow in a variety of conditions. It can be grown from seed or propagated by dividing the root ball of an established plant.

The plant prefers well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade. It is tolerant of drought and can grow in a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils.

To grow Buck's-horn Plantain from seed, sow the seeds in the spring or fall in well-draining soil. The seeds should be planted about 1/8 inch deep and spaced about 6 inches apart. Water the seeds regularly until they germinate, which usually takes 7-10 days.

To propagate Buck's-horn Plantain by dividing the root ball, wait until the plant has finished flowering and the leaves have begun to die back. Dig up the plant and gently separate the root ball into smaller sections. Replant the sections in well-draining soil and water them well.

Once established, Buck's-horn Plantain requires little care. Water it during dry spells and fertilize it with a balanced fertilizer in the spring if desired. The plant is resistant to most pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance addition to any garden.


Buck's-horn Plantain is a versatile and useful plant that is easy to grow and care for. Whether you are interested in using it for its medicinal properties, culinary value, or simply as a hardy and attractive addition to your garden, Buck's-horn Plantain is a plant worth exploring. With its unique flavor, potential health benefits, and adaptability to a range of growing conditions, it is a valuable addition to any home garden.

Buck's-horn Plantain Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Buck's-horn Plantain is scientifically known as Plantago coronopus.

  2. Appearance: This perennial herb has rosettes of lance-shaped leaves with toothed margins, resembling the shape of deer antlers.

  3. Distribution: It is native to Europe and Western Asia but has also naturalized in other parts of the world.

  4. Habitat: Buck's-horn Plantain thrives in coastal areas, salt marshes, and disturbed habitats like roadsides.

  5. Edible: The leaves of Buck's-horn Plantain are edible and are sometimes used in salads or cooked as greens.

  6. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, it has been used for its medicinal properties, including as a treatment for respiratory issues and skin conditions.

  7. Flowering Time: It typically produces slender spikes of small, greenish flowers during the summer months.

  8. Pollination: The flowers are wind-pollinated and produce tiny seeds in capsules.

  9. Adaptation: Buck's-horn Plantain is well-adapted to coastal environments, tolerating salt spray and sandy soils.

  10. Drought Tolerance: It exhibits some drought tolerance, making it resilient in various environmental conditions.

  11. Wildlife Habitat: The plant provides habitat and food for various insects, including butterflies and bees.

  12. Weed Status: In some regions, it is considered a weed due to its ability to colonize disturbed areas.

  13. Culinary Diversity: Besides salads, the leaves can be used in soups, stews, or as a spinach substitute.

  14. Historical Significance: It has a history of use in traditional medicine dating back centuries.

  15. Common Names: Besides Buck's-horn Plantain, it's also known by other names such as Swine's Cress and Starweed.

  16. Soil Preference: It thrives in well-drained soils but can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

  17. Height: The plant typically reaches a height of 20-50 centimeters.

  18. Root System: It has a fibrous root system that helps stabilize the plant in sandy soils.

  19. Conservation Status: It is not considered endangered, and its population is stable.

  20. Germination: Buck's-horn Plantain seeds germinate readily, contributing to its ability to colonize disturbed areas.

  21. Companion Plant: It is sometimes used as a companion plant in gardens to attract beneficial insects.

  22. Folklore: In some cultures, Buck's-horn Plantain has folklore associated with healing properties and protection against evil spirits.

  23. Culinary Heritage: It has been used in traditional cuisines in various cultures as a nutritious green.

  24. Cultural Significance: It holds cultural significance in herbalism and has been mentioned in historical texts.

  25. Traditional Medicine: Extracts from the plant have been used to make ointments for wounds and skin irritations.

  26. Seed Dispersal: The tiny seeds are dispersed by the wind, aiding in the plant's natural propagation.

  27. Herbal Tea: The leaves can be used to make herbal tea, believed by some to have mild medicinal properties.

  28. Seasonal Changes: The appearance of the plant can change with the seasons, with leaves being more prominent in the growing season.

  29. Horticultural Use: It is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for its unique foliage.

  30. Leaf Variability: Leaves can vary in size and shape, with younger leaves being more tender and less toothed.


Buck's-horn Plantain filmed at Lytham St. Anne's in Lancashire on the 12th June 2023.


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