I found this plant in Rouen (Normandy, France) in a plant bed on the side of a street (May 15th, 2024).

It looks like a Plantago lanceolata but some of its inflorescences are not the usual single spike at the end of the stalk but rather look like several spikes bunched together. This is clearly visible in the second photo.

All the other Plantago lanceolata that I could find nearby were the regular form.

Do you know if this is a known variety or just the result of a random mutation?

And also what would be the correct botanical term to describe this kind of inflorescence?

Plantago lanceolata Inflorescence details

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's not a species; flowers just do this sometimes, e.g. an echinacea stem with two heads. Weird to see, but not terribly rare. $\endgroup$ May 15 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ This might be an example of fasciation, which has many causes including pathogens and physical damage. It could alternatively be an infection by a phytoplasma. $\endgroup$ May 16 at 23:29

1 Answer 1


After some more research I was able to find an article about mutations in Plantago lanceolata.

The author observed that mutations in the flowers of these species were more frequent when the plant had been damaged, after hay cutting for instance. But these mutated plants only rarely produced descendants with mutations. He was however able to cultivate a variety that produced 80% of descendants with abnormal inflorescences.

So the plant I observed is almost certainly Plantago lanceolata and, as others noted in the comments, it's not that unusual for these species to have mutated flowers.

Here is an illustration taken from the article showing various abnormal inflorescences.

Métamorphose des épis de Plantago lanceolata

L. Blaringhem (1923) Etudes sur le polymorphisme floral. IV. Sexualité et métamorphose des épis de Plantago lanceolata L., Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France, 70:4, 717-725, DOI: 10.1080/00378941.1923.10836897

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent, nice to see someone come back and provide an answer to their own question. $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    May 17 at 5:03

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