08 August 2012
Hoary Plantain in West Glamorgan
Hoary Plantain (Plantago media) is a familiar species of calcareous grassland in parts of Britain (including the Vale of Glamorgan) but is uncommon as a native species in West Glamorgan and Wales in general . This is odd given the occurrence of very suitable habitat in south Gower. However a small but persistent population occurs in grassland in the Quays, near Briton Ferry, where this plant was photographed today. It was probably introduced there in seed mixture along with the giant form of Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum), Musk-mallow (Malva moschata) and Fodder Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba Ssp. balearicum) with which it grows. It's easily passed over, but it has an attractive inflorescence (by plantain standards!) which appears purple or pinkish. The filaments of the stamens are much longer than those of Greater Plantain (Plantago major) and the scape (stem) is not grooved like that of Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Like Ribwort Plantain it's a grassland species and it often grows with it. All the plants in the Quays' population appear to have multiple rosettes of leaves at their base, a feature which has been noted by others. The photograph below shows the distinctive, long (>5mm) filaments.