Hasteola suaveolens

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: false Indian plantain 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Eastern and North central United States
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Wet Soil

Culture

Best grown in moist to wet soil conditions in full sun to light shade. Plants can spread aggressively in garden areas by rhizomes and self-seeding under optimum conditions. Preferred habitats for this plant are in moist ground at the edges of rivers or streams. It is relatively tolerant of light shade and grows well in rich floodplain forests, thickets or openings. Some authorities consider this species to be an obligate wetland species.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hasteola suaveolens, commonly known as sweet Indian plantain, is an herbaceous perennial of the aster/composite family that typically grows to 3-5’ tall, but occasionally to 7’ tall or more. It is native to moist to wet soils along riverbanks, river floodplains, wet meadows along streams, marsh peripheries, and moist low woods from Connecticut to southeastern Minnesota south to Missouri, Tennessee, Maryland and in the mountains to Georgia. Plants have shallow, coarsely fibrous root systems.

Sweet Indian plantain is unbranched below the flower clusters. Lower leaves are arrowhead-shaped (hastate) to triangular (deltate) with saw-toothed margins. Each lower leaf grows to 15” long and to 7” wide. Upper leaves are more deltate to lanceolate in shape, becoming much smaller in size as they ascend the stem. Flowers in flat-topped clusters (corymbs) bloom from July to September. Flowers are creamy white but rarely pinkish. Each flowerhead has 25-30 creamy white to pinkish disk flowers (no rays). The base of each flowerhead is surrounded by linear phyllaries (floral bracts). Fertile disk florets are followed by achenes with tufts of white or tawny hair. Seeds are distributed by the wind or sometimes by water.

Sweet Indian plantain is uncommonly found throughout much of its range in the U.S. Populations of this plant have declined to low levels in many areas of its native range because of habitat loss (wetland reduction). Draining and filling of wetlands has in many regions contributed to a significant decline of this species which is in large part dependent upon riverine habitats. It is currently listed as an endangered species in Connecticut, New York, Maryland and Minnesota. It is listed as a threatened species in several other States.

Cacalia suaveolens and Synosma suaveolens are synonyms.

Genus name means hastate in reference to its hastate lower leaves.

Specific epithet means sweet-scented.

Notwithstanding the plantain part of its common name, sweet indian plantain is totally unrelated to the weedy plantain (Plantago major) which has naturalized over time throughout the U.S. as a somewhat uncontrollable lawn weed.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Moist wildflower gardens. Moist lowland areas.