plantain (plănˈtĭn) [key], any plant of the genus Plantago, chiefly annual or perennial weeds of wide distribution. Many species are lawn pests and the pollen is often a hay fever irritant. P. psyllium, called psyllium, or fleawort, is cultivated in Spain and France for its mucilaginous seed-coatings, exported under the name psyllium seed for use as a laxative. In the United States wild plantains are occasionally utilized locally for forage. The name plantain is also used for a starchy form of the banana; the water plantain, Alisma plantago-aquatica, is another unrelated species. Plantains are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Plantaginales, family Plantaginaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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