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Kevin Doyle

Prairie Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum)

Life history

Species overview

Prairie Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in a variety of deep-soiled prairies. Blooming occurs early May through late June; fruiting occurs late June through late July. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late July.

Synonyms: Cacalia tuberosa, C. paniculata, C. plantaginea, C. pteranthes, Mesadenia tuberosa


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Elliptic leaves with several prominent arcuate parallel veins and flowers borne in flat-topped clusters of disklike flowers; angled stem marked by many fine vertical lines.
  • Flower characteristics: Up to 100 disk-like heads in a wide, flat-topped cluster atop branched stems; each head less than 2 cm tall, containing 5 small, tubular, white flowers with 5-lobed corollas.
  • Fruit characteristics: Cypselae (achene surrounded by calyx sheath) dark brown, oblong.
  • Leaf characteristics: Elliptic leaves are thick, firm, and have several prominent arcuate parallel veins; lower leaves are 6-20 cm x 2-10 cm in size and have long petioles; leaves become less numerous and lack petioles up the stem; basal leaves smooth, thick, rubbery, and long-stalked.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Parthenium integrifolium, Asclepias sullivantii.

State status

Note: Prairie Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum) was removed from the Wisconsin E/T list on January 1, 2014 per administrative rule ER-27-11. Learn more.

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 Prairie Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum). 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 plantagineum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG4G5
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 a variety of deep-soiled prairies.
  • Soils: Moist soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Prairie 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).

Natural communities score
Wet-mesic Prairie 3
Wet Prairie 3
Dry Prairie 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Prairie 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.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

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

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Prairie Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © Roberta Herschleb.

Prairie Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Prairie Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Prairie Indian-plantain Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Prairie Indian-plantain Photo.

Prairie Indian Plantain found within a wet-mesic prairie.

Photo by Christina Isenring, Wisconsin DNR.

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