An Extraordinary Ordinary

A narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) run amok

For such an unpretentious plant, the narrowleaf plantain can be capable of unexpected exuberance.  Wandering through a field filled with plantain, I once found an attractive, sinuous stem. Here, anomalous growth has produced a sight that brings to mind the old saying about “three’s a crowd.”

Of course, this group of three flower heads doesn’t seem at all crowded. It’s simply another graceful example of nature doing what nature does so well: surprising and delighting with extraordinary versions of what we call ordinary plants.

Whatever the cause of the unusual growth — genetics, a virus, a response to injury — the result is memorable and the lesson clear. Even a so-called vacant neighborhood lot may hold unexpected treasure.


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