Plantain. The common plantain, also called the broad-leaf plantain, is a species that often troubles gardeners. It may be recognized in spring by its circular cluster of broad light-green leaves that grow from the roots. Tall, slender spikes grow up from the center of the cluster. In the summer, these spikes are thickly covered with tiny green flowers. Other plantains include the narrow-leaf plantain, also known as rib grass, which has narrow leaves and short, thick spikes; and the seaside plantain, which has leaves that are used in medicine to lessen inflammation. The seeds of various types of plantains are used as a mild laxative.
A tropical plant called the plantain is a kind of banana. The fruit of this plant looks much like the banana although it is hard and starchy and is eaten cooked. The plantain’s fruit has become one of the chief foods in tropical countries. A type of flour is made from the fruit of the plantain.
Scientific classification. Plantains belong to the plantain family, Plantaginaceae. The scientific name for the broad-leaf plantain is Plantago major.