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Great Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum reniforme)

Life history

Species overview

Great Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum reniforme), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in dry-mesic and mesic hardwood forests and adjacent mesic prairies, often with dolomite near the surface. Blooming occurs late June through late July; fruiting occurs late July through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late September.

Synonyms: Arnoglossum muhlenbergii, Cacalia muehlenbergii, C. reniformis, Mesadenia reniformis, Mesadenia muhlenbergii, Senecio atriplicifolius var. reniformis, Senecio muhlenbergii


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Grooved stem with 6 to 8 angles, lower leaves large, kidney-shaped, other leaves palmately veined, irregularly toothed, and green on both sides.
  • Flower characteristics: Many short, broad, flat-topped flower heads containing 5 narrowly cylindrical flowers.
  • Fruit characteristics: Cypselae (achene surrounded by calyx sheath) dark brown to purple, 4 to 5 mm, tapering toward one or both ends.
  • Leaf characteristics: Irregularly toothed, green on both sides, and palmately veined; lower leaves very large, up to 80 cm wide, kidney-shaped, and with long petioles; upper leavese fan-shaped or oval and smaller in size.


  • Blooming phenology: late June through late July
  • Fruiting phenology: late July through late August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Ostyra virginiana, Tilia americana, Ulmus americana, Quercus rubra, Arisaema triphyllum, Juglans cinerea, Asarum canadense, Laportea canadensis, Adiantum pedatum, Solidago flexicaulis.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Great Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum reniforme). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Arnoglossum reniforme in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in dry-mesic and mesic hardwood forests and adjacent mesic prairies, often with dolomite near the surface.
  • Soils: Rich, loamy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Great Indian-plantain. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Great Indian-plantain. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Because this species occurs in a variety of habitats, precise management guidelines are unclear. Therefore, avoid dramatic changes to the habitat where a population is found.
  • Maintain partial canopy to encourage woodland species; avoid closed-canopy conditions.


Great Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © Abbie Meyer.

Great Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © Abbie Meyer.

Great Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © Abbie Meyer.

Great Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © Abbie Meyer.

Great Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © Abbie Meyer.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition