Getting to Know Herbs: Common Plantain

in #gardening2 years ago (edited)

Found nearly everywhere, this plant is fully edible and can be used as an antivenom, soothing itches, and as a topical treatment for hemorrhoids. The leaves are harvested during the flowering period to make infusions with.

Photo by @krnel

Key Points

  • grows everywhere
  • fully edible
  • good for survival situations as food and medicine
  • safest plant to eat that I've covered so far in Getting to Know Herbs


The common plantain goes by the scientific term Plantago major, also known as the Broadleaf Plantain, White Man's Foot, Erva-De-Orelha, General Plantain, Grand Plantain, Greater Plantain, Llantén, Plantago asiatica, Plantago major, Plantago Mayor, Plantain, Plantain à Bouquet, Plantain Commun, Plantain à Feuilles Larges, Plantain Majeur, Plantain des Oiseaux, Tanchagem.

The common plantain is believed to be a pioneer plant from Europe to North America during colonization. The reference to "white man's foot" was given by the Native Amerindians because it emerged in the disturbed and damaged areas of European settlements.

Where is it found?

It's native to most of Europe and north and central Asia, but it's been introduced into many more areas of the world, such as North America where it can be found everywhere in lawns, on the roadside, and in gardens to name a few places. It does well in compacted and disturbed soils.

What's it used for?

The ability to survive being frequently trampled on makes it an ideal plant to rehabilitate soil, as the roots help to break up hardened surfaces, while at the same time holding the soil together to prevent erosion.

The entire plant is edible. Young leaves are more tender to be eaten in salads, but quickly become fibrous and tough. Some people boil them for eating in salads, soups or stews. Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, and ground into a meal to be mixed with flour. Dried leaves are used to make herbal tea. The leaves have calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and more minerals, as well as vitamin A, C, K, B6 and B9 in substantial amounts.

The common plantain has substances that can decrease pain, inflammation, mucus production, open airways and kill bacteria and fungi. It can treat bladder infections, bronchitis, colds, irritated or bleeding hemorrhoids and skin conditions or eye irritations.

The root is said to be useful as an anti-venom to treat rattlesnake bites.

Are there any risks?

It's pretty safe all around for most adults taken orally. It might cause diarrhea and low blood pressure.

Pregnant women should avoid it as it might affect the uterus and increase the change of a miscarriage. Avoiding when breast feeding is recommended as well since it's not known whether it is an issue, but it might be fine. Those with melon allergies might also be allergic to the common plantain.

Those taking Warfarin (Coumadin) to slow blood clotting should avoid the common plantain as it might decrease the drug's effectiveness since it helps blood clotting.


Previous posts on Getting to Know Herbs:
Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) | Black Cohosh | Common Bearberry | Mahonia Mountain Grape (Oregon Grape) | Blue Cohosh | Goldenseal

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This plant is high on my "bug out gather as you go" menu as it is easy to spot and can be found almost everywhere. Easy to quickly grab some and keep going. Good easy food later on for gathering too. Awesome plant for medicine like you say here as well. Very useful post for folks even now as many have this growing in their yard. 😎

Good stuff. There are so many wild edible that can save us when SHTF. Plus they have medicinal usages.

I just started harvesting and foraging for this on our property. I hadn't known about it before until I was watching a video.

I've made plantain infused oil and then some salve.

A wondrous weed!

If you did a post about that, I'd be interested... :D hint hint :D

Nice! What are you using it for?


Here's another with many of the same medicinal properties... The Catalpa (Bean Tree) the bark is used as antivenom and antiseptic made into a tea. The roots are poisonous, but the bark and leaves are fine.

Koo, thanks for the companion info ;)

I will have to keep my eyes out for them here, seeing as it looks like they are so common. Have you eaten any, and how comparable to Spinach would you say it is?

I haven't eaten any yet :/ I will try next spring maybe. I think if you eat is young, it would probably be close to mild in flavor, but maybe not as good tasting. When they get bigger they are not going to taste good much, but still be edible ;)

Wow, I didn't know these were edible. Now I know if I'm in a survival situation.

Yup, always good to know whats safe to eat, and what is less safe, and what can kill you ;)

Well, at least I know about those weeds. We have a lot of mushrooms grow here in the mountains. I don't know which is bad or good. People hunt for what called Dry land fish. And they are worth money.

That's amazing about the antivenom thing. It seems we should be eating this plant even just for it's health benefits.

I agree, salads or stir fries, can put it into anything daily and has very low negatives.

I know this is edible because i am a student of Botany. This is used for many purposes

Good field to study :)

interesting, I think I have seen that weed about. how is the taste?

I haven't tasted it myself. It's everywhere. Probably tastes ok as a young plant, but not too good when it starts to grow more.

Wow, it's a superb article with an extraordinary presentation.
So cool......... Good luck.

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