California Plantain

Plantago erecta (California Plantain); Photo by Kathy Korbholz

Scientific Name: Plantago erecta.  Plantago means sole of foot; erecta means erect.

Other Common Name: Dwarf Plantain

Family Name: Plantaginaceae

Description: California plantain grows low to the ground, with long fuzzy leaves at its base and upright stems that terminate in  groups of small white flowers.  For more, see Jepson’s eFlora description.

Notes: California plantain is critical caterpillar food for our Bay Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis); In March and April, fertilized female butterflies lay clusters of eggs on California plantain. Tiny black caterpillars hatch ten days later. The larvae feast on the plantain and grow quickly.

Finding it at Edgewood: California Plantain blooms at Edgewood from March to June.  It is common in dry, grassy places, and can be found along the Edgewood and Clarkia trails, as well as on sections of the Sylvan Trail and the Serpentine Loop.  See map below.

California plantain (Plantago Erecta) distribution at Edgewood
Plantago Erecta distribution at Edgewood

Edgewood photos
Jepson Flora Project

Beidleman, L. and Kozloff, E.  Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region – Mendocino to Monterey.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994.
Corelli, T.  Flowering Plants of Edgewood Natural Preserve. Half Moon Bay, CA: Monocot Press, 2004.
Niehaus, T. and Ripper, C.  A Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers: Washington, Oregon, California and adjacent areas.  New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1976.
Edgewood Explorer Newsletter, Lifecycle. 05/1995
Edgewood Explorer Newsletter; Return of the Butterflies; 06/2006.

Information compiled by Dianne Hunt and Anna Lee