Be still my Heart June 13, 2007
A plant that is listed as state endangered in Ohio captured my heart. This unusual Plantago is not like the average plantain growing in the compacted soil of your yard. A much more robust plant with thickened leaves,it somewhat resembles a hosta. Hard to believe those scruffy buckhorn plantains are even related to the Heart-Leaved Plantain, Plantago cordata. This wetland obligate has much larger and obviously heart-shaped leaves. Some clever botanist didn't have to think too far out of the box to name this one! It apparently needs flowing water to disperse its seeds, as it grows right off of the boardwalk in a seep. I have never seen it flower, but the leaves alone were worth the effort to see.
You can search many unusual plants on the Rare Native Ohio Plants website. This rare plantain is only known in three sites in all of Ohio. Lawrence Woods in Hardin County is one of them. This woodland with a buttonbush swamp in the center has a easily traversed boardwalk. Not only a great place to botanize, but a fun spot for viewing dragonflies and such as well. Ohio has many interesting and under utilized site for the protection of some specialized flora. Be sure to support these preserves and enjoy them in a manner that will continue to preserve unusual flora for our future. Who would have thought you could admire a plantain?