Pale Indian Plantain, Arnoglossum atriplicifolium, is a gorgeous native perennial with a stout, purple stem that is striking in its native habitat of prairies, upland woodlands and stream banks. This species prefers sandy, loamy, or rocky soil in dry to medium conditions with full sun to light shade. A mound of large basal leaves are striking, often reaching up to 8″ long and 6″ wide, and almost take an artificial, plastic-like look, creating attractive foliage before flowering. In spring, a central unbranched stalk emerges from the basal mound, also with large (8″x8″) alternate leaves, terminating in a flat-topped panicle of white flowerheads which bloom July-September. This plant requires cross pollination which is facilitated by a variety of wasps, flies, and small bees, which are attracted to the nectar. Wild Indian Plantain makes an excellent addition to a late-summer living fence, however it can become aggressive and therefore may not be suitable for small landscape plantings. Clipping the stalks after flowering can help prevent the plant from spreading by seed. In a wildflower meadow, this species mixes well with taller wildflowers and grasses, providing verticality and structure behind other perennials.
Photo: Stephanie Brundage, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center