Lambs Tongue, ribwort or buckhorn plantain in turfgrass

Lambs Tongue (Plantago lanceolata)

Lambs Tongue, also known as Ribwort or Buckhorn Plantain, is a common perennial weed of turf and lawns found in all areas of Australia.


How to Identify Lambs Tongue.

Buckhorn Plantain is easy to identify as it has distinct slender parallel veins on hairy leaves that form 1 or more rosettes.

Slender, long flowering stems emerge from these rosettes, which carry dense, brown, cylindrical seed heads. These often have white anthers sticking out of them.

Because of its height this enables weeds to quickly spread via the wind. In the cooler months in late Autumn and early Winter, this weed often germinates

Leaf length: Leaves are long, narrow, and 30-300 mm long.
Leaf Width: The leaves are 8-30 mm wide.
Comments: Lambs Tongue is usually compact in turf but much more open and spreading in non-competitive situations.
Habitat: Buckhorn or Ribwort Plantain is often in poor lawns, turfs, gardens, roadsides, and other high-traffic areas.





How to Control Lambs Tongue.

Cultural and chemical options will control Ribwort, Buckhorn Plantain or Lambs Tongue.

Cultural control of Lambs Tongue.

Maintain a thick, healthy turf cover, is the first step to control this weed. Ensure you feed the turf properly and use the right turf fertilizer, as this will help to create a dense turf canopy that discourages lambs tongue. 

Make sure you mow at the right height for your turf type, as this also helps favour turf over this weed.

If the weed isn’t too widespread, it is easy to remove by hand pulling. However, ensure you pull out the entire plant, including its deep tap root. If you don’t, it will regrow a short-time after you remove it.


Chemical Control of Lambs Tongue.


Pre-emergent herbicides.

Although not registered in Australia, overseas work has shown that Specticle herbicide does however, provide excellent control of weeds that germinates from seed but does not control older Lambs Tongue plants. It

However, weeds such as Buckhorn Plantain that still have a living root system, will continue to grow through any ground where Specticle is applied.


Selective herbicides

The best time to spray this weed is when it’s young and not well established.



In conclusion

The key to managing lambs tongue before spraying post emergent herbicides is to maintain a healthy turf surface.