Plantain – Plantago major, Plantaginaceae
Description: Deep green, lily like plants found along streams, roadsides and lawns. The flowers are a yellow-green in appearance and when mature 7 inch spikes that resemble miniature cat-tails protrude from the center. The leaves are 8-10 inches long, oval to heart-shaped with a center rib. Flowering time is June -September.
Growing conditions: Very hardy. Grows in poor soil, in sun or shade. A highly adaptable plant, plantain has spread across Europe and America. Propagation is from seed carried by the wind.
Legend has it a beautiful Indian maiden spent so much of her time by a stream waiting for her lover to return that she was eventually transformed into this common plant. Indians referred to plantain as “white man’s foot,” as it seemed to follow the white settlers everywhere they went.
Plantain, although classified as a weed, has many positive uses. Crushed, fresh plantain leaves can be applied to bee stings, mosquito bites and poison ivy. A poultice can be prepared from fresh, chopped leaves and used in the treatment of heat rash.
Plantain is edible, and can be cooked like spinach or eaten raw, as it is rich in vitamin C. Herbalists do not recommend eating the leaves as the plantain grown along roadsides is often laced with pesticides and herbicides. And this includes most lawns as well.
A soothing ointment can be made with plantain leaves, calendula flowers and olive oil. Add 1/4 cup calendula flowers, 1/4 cup chopped plantain leaves to a small glass jar with a lid. Pour in about 1/2 cup of olive oil. Allow the oil and herbs to infuse for 7 days. Shake gently, and strain out the herbs. Use this infused oil on sores, scrapes and minor burns.
Good to know: The lowly plantain was considered one of the nine sacred herbs of the ancient Saxons.
Blessed be, sweet ones.
~ Meadow Walker
Photo courtesy of http://www.biolib.de