SOLVED: Is this a hosta?

We have a seed packet that we received in a trade. The packet is simply labeled "Plantain", which we presume means the Plantain Lily.

Well, the only reference we can find to a plantain lily places it as the same thing as a hosta. Yet, when the seeds germinated, they don't look much like the hostas that we've seen. Any ideas on these seedlings here?

Is this what a hosta seedling looks like, or do we have something all together different, or is it too soon to tell?


Thumbnail by dave
Aliso Viejo, CA(Zone 10a)

Hey Dave,

It's definitely not a Hosta. We have a weed around here and I believe it's called Plantain. I wouldn't be too worried though, if I were you, it doesn't look too much like it.


Kalama, WA(Zone 8b)

You know! I've never seen a hosta seedling before. But that looks like it could be one to me!!! I have the Plantain weeds here and that doesn't look anything like it's seedling. Joy

Jacksonville, TX(Zone 8b)

Oh dear..I wish I knew for sure!! I'm going to be sick if I find out I've been babying a WEED!


MD &, VA(Zone 7b)

Were the seeds like paper, kind of ovalish and black? Thats what hosta seeds look like. Though that pic really doesn't look like a hosta, there are hosta's with thin leaves such as those. May have to wait til it grows up unless there is a hosta expert out here. Could you possibly e-mail the sender and ask for the botanical name? Might be the best thing to do.

Jacksonville, TX(Zone 8b)


The seeds were small, oval, and black! I have never seen a hosta with long leaves like this. I got 100% germination on these guys too. I just keep hoping that the leaves will fatten up! LOL! Even though it isn't quite what I was looking for, it is pretty neat to have such an interesting variety.

Dave did all of the trading last year (I was busy having a baby), but I'll check with him to see if he can find the email of where it came from. Come to think of it, I think we have Plaintain Lilies from 2 different people.

Thanks for your help!!


Crestview, FL(Zone 7b)

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Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Trish, were the seeds about 1/2" long, and very very thin (paper thin, as Jody mentioned above)? If so, you probably have hosta seeds, but here's a couple things to keep in mind:

1. Very few non-hybridized seeds will come true - it's just luck of the draw. Most will be nondescript plants that may or may not be worth keeping.

2. According to one source I found, hostas can have strap-like leaves, in addition to the heart-shaped leaves we normally associate with hostas. So yours may very well be a hosta, but the leaves may not be what you were hoping for.

This is why most people do vegetative propagation of hostas, so they can be assured of the plant's characteristics. I also just started some hosta seed I received in a trade. If they look promising when they get started, I'd be glad to share (it was from one of our very generous DG traders, whom I'll let remain anyonymous!)

Crestview, FL(Zone 7b)

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Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

I don't think it's a hosta. Hosta grows very slowly. The hostas I started this winter still have only 4-6 leaves. Plantain is a weed but it's also a useful medicinal herb. There's many different species. The common weed is plantago major. The one you have might be plantago lanceolata (? dunno for sure). There's even an attractive red leaf variety - (thought about getting that one for myself).

The leaves can be used as a poultice to speed healing of burns and insect bites. The seeds are used as a laxative and said to lower cholesterol. Plantago pysllium is where pysllium comes from. It's also used in weight loss products and cosmetics. See... it's only a weed if you don't want it around :o)

Anyways..... It probably won't grow up to be the most ornamental plant in your garden The flowers are basically just a strapy, seedy stalk. But if someone took the time to grow it and collect seeds it might be more ornamental than you'd think. As far as I know the plants spread by seeds - not roots. So if you don't allow it to set seed than it probably won't spread. I say give him a chance..... You might like him.

Hosta seeds are flat, black flakes. Plantain seeds would have been small and round or maybe tear dropped shaped.

Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

Check out some of these pics and see what you think.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

looks like some kind of lily to me. Maybe a muscari? The seeds for it are small and black and flatish(?) It's definitely not a hosta. When they come up, they are monocots and have one seed leaf. My seedlings are at least 6 mos. old and only have a few leaves and are still only about an inch high.

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Powhatan, VA(Zone 6b)

This is a guess, but it looks a lot like liriope aka lilyturf. Ok I just went outside in the dark and in my nightgown to get some seeds off mine. They are round and black. They are about they same size as some daylily seeds. What do you think you have the plant there?


Well, thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. We'll watch this plant closely through the summer and will report more when it gets bigger.

Hopefully it'll have a flower of some sort that will help us out.


Cedar Rapids, IA

The leaves look a lot like spiderwort to me. I am not real good at identifying plants from a photo but that was my first thought when I read your post. If it is spiderwort - it spreads extremely fast and will take over a bed quickly.

It could also be liriope as puttyrat suggested. I could not find a link with a photo of lirope.

Here is a link:

south central, WI(Zone 5a)

There is also a banana -like fruit called a plantain; I have no idea what it looks like-. The photo looks a lot like my spiderwort. In re: the mystery stick, the hort. Professor said that she would have to see the plant and that also she was not very familiar with plants of the Allegany area. Sorry.. Marcia

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