Plantago psyllium sensu L.
Annual herb with well developed stems. Stems up to 30 cm long, erect to slightly ascendent, upper parts covered with short hard, glandular hairs in young plants; stem usually branched in the upper part. Leaves opposite, thin, 3-6 cm long, 1.5-3 (-4) mm broad, linear to linear-lanceolate, entire to denate, narrowed gradually at both ends, apices ± obtuse, base slightly dilated, covered sparsely with short, hard, glandular hairs. Inflorescence axillary, peduncles 3-5 cm long, spreading, hairy. Spikes 8-12 (-15) mm long, dense elliptic to short cylindrical-ovate. Bracts 3-8 mm long, slightly concave, narrow-ovate to ovate, in the upper part produced into a long, narrow acuminate part, in the upper flowers the produced parts shorter, covered with intermixed short and long glandular and nonglandular hairs. Sepals 3-3.5 (-4) mm long, anterior oblique-lanceolate, slightly acuminate, covered with similar hairs as on the bracts, posterior concave, slightly compressed, lanceolate-ovate to narrow-ovate, slightly unequal. Corolla tube up to 4 mm long, rugulose; lobes 2 mm long, narrow-ovate, acute. Seeds 2, reddish-brown, narrow-elliptic, shining, 2-3 mm long.
Type: Malta and N. Africa, Verdcourt, l.c.
Distribution: Spain, Mediterranean regions, Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Specimens collected by Miss Nishat Akhtar and Abida Begum from Swat and Hazara respectively are similar to Plantago afra in all the characters except that the bracts in these two specimens are very broad and long, even longer than the length of the spikes. Such long bracts are typical of Plantago indica but in Plantago indica the leaves are filiform and usually revolute at the margins, while these specimens have lanceolate, flat, leaves. These specimens after comparison with the types and more collection may prove to be a new variety of Plantago indica.
Official in British pharmacopical codex under psyllium, used in dysentry in the tropics.