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When I saw this field of Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) nodding their flower heads in the gentle breeze, I had to make them my post for the day.

200529 ribwort plantain (1)

My Flora Britannica lists several common names for this plant, including Fighting cocks, Short bobs, Soldiers and sailors, and Black Jacks, which all come from the fact that the plant is apparently used for children’s games. This is not something I had heard of but it seems one variation of the game is similar to conkers, where kids try to knock off each other’s flower heads.

Though the gardeners amongst you may regard this as a pesky garden weed, I think it’s an attractive plant. Its flowers provide sustenance for insects like butterflies, moths and hoverflies and, if its seed heads are not chopped off, they provide food for seed-eating birds like Goldfinches. Interestingly, though, the Plantlife website says ‘ribwort plantain is surprisingly unpopular with slugs and snails [as] they find the leaves unpalatable.’