Foraging Plantain for Wild Food and Remedies


| 7/23/2015 9:36:00 AM


Tags: Leda Meredith, New York, foraging, edible wild plants, plantain, plantago, herbal remedies, herbal medicine,

No relation to the tropical, banana-like plant with the same common name, plantain is a common weed with edible leaves and seeds. It is also one of the best herbal remedies for scrapes, bug bites, and bee stings.

Where to Find Plantain

If you have a sunny driveway, you probably have some plantain growing along it. Plantago (plantain’s scientific name) loves sunny places with disturbed soils and is common in lawns, parks, and gardens.

Identifying Plantain

All of the plantains have in common that their leaves grow in a low rosette, and that the leaves have prominent, stretchy, parallel veins. If you pull off one of the leaves from the plant you’ll often see those veins sticking out of the stalk like threads (think celery). The leaves have smooth edges or a few soft teeth.

Plantago major (common plantain) has wide, oval leaves. P. rugelii (Rugel’s plantain) leaves are the same shape as common plantain’s, but with red or purplish coloration on the leaf stalks. P. lanceolata (narrow-leaved or English plantain) has narrow leaves that can grow anywhere from a few inches to a foot long, but are almost never more than an inch wide.

All three species have flowers and seed heads that emerge from the center of the leaf rosette on leafless stalks. Plantago lanceolata has 1- to 2-inch seed heads with tiny white flowers. The seed heads of both P. major and P. rugelii. cover most of their stalks and start out with green, scale-like seeds that eventually turn black or brown.

Harvesting Plantain

Plantain is an invasive plant and you do not have to worry about over-harvesting it. Gather the leaves spring through fall.


margotm
8/31/2015 8:52:16 AM

making a spit poultice sounds interesting since I have applied saliva to my bug bites ever since I was a kid in Europe


margotm
8/31/2015 8:50:13 AM

making a spit poultice sounds interesting since I have applied saliva on my bug bites ever since I was a kid in Europe




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