susanem's picture

Leaves from flower of Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Observed: 7th August 2011 By: susanemsusanem’s reputation in Plants
Burtonwood Plantain

There were three fruiting flower-spikes of Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)that had leaves growing out of the top of the flower. Does anyone know what has caused this?

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) interacts


vetandteacher's picture

New shoot

A couple of ideas - it is possible that a seed has germinated in the fruiting head. However, the process of seed formation; where the seed's water content is reduced and various hormones inhibit germination make this unlikely.

My second suggestion is that the shoot is a clone of the parent plant growing from meristem cells somewhere in the ovary. If (for some reason - perhaps a mutation) the flower, fruit or seed produces unusual amounts of cytokinin or other hormones, unspecialised cells may be triggered to start to divide and then specialise, producing the leaves in the picture. Flowering plants are generally easy to clone artificially as they have meristem (stem) cells in many organs and all they need is a hormonal trigger.

Here is a link to a secondary source on the suggestion: