Plantago the plant of plenty!

Hello Garden Friends,

To most of us dandelions, crab grass and plantains are considered a lawn’s menace. But if you take them for what they are worth they just might surprise you and be more of a blessing than a burden.

Plantains are one of the most beneficial plants, they have many medicinal properties and truly are a gardener’s best friend.  There are three species of plantains they are Plantago major (broad leaf), Plantago lanceolata (thin leaf) and Plantago psyllium.  The broad leaf is the most common and the psyllium is what is used when you consume psyllium as a fiber supplement.  You will find plantain living within compacted soil and under heavy foot traffic it likes to colonize in a lawn that gets a great deal of extensive family use, thus our lawn having a great deal of it!  Native Americans called it the White People’s Foot Plant since it would pop up where-ever a person had traveled thru, it tends be where people are. On a recent hike the area leading to the main trail was heavily colonized with plantain, something I had not noticed before I decided to study this fascinating plant.

So, what can it do for you; well it is antibacterial, antiviral, it contains lots of amino acids thus it makes proteins, it’s a natural gelatin and it draws poison out of your bodily system topically. It will help draw out a splinter, dirt, debris and pus. Therefore, if you are bitten by a spider, ant or a bee when applied as a poultice it will remove pain and venom within 10 mins or less.  What is a poultice? It is when you chew the leaf and macerate it and then apply to the infected area or crush between your fingers to breakdown the fibers in the leaves.  You can also dry it and then grind it and apply as a paste or use as a tea. When ingested as a tea it helps to heal the mucosal linings in your body since it has mucilage characteristics. It is extremely beneficial to the lungs, intestine and bladder these being mucosal lined organs. And with COVID 19 attacking the lungs it has been beneficial in protecting the lungs against this virus just from consuming it as a tea!  God truly has made everything we need to heal ourselves in the plant world without medicine and to protect us from diseases when they try to attack our bodies how amazing is THAT! It also helps acne and eczema. 

How do you know if you have plantain or how to find it while foraging some of the common characteristics are it is fibrous, the leaves have long veins and when you pull it apart at the base very fibrous threads will become visible.  If the plant is allowed to go to seed you will see long seed pods that look like baby corn, these can be harvested and sauteed with a little bit of olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to make a healthy side dish or a small meal. Or dried and grinded to create a psyllium fiber supplement.

broadleaf plantain image

Hopefully plantain can now be seen as a medicinal harvestable crop versus a pernicious weed. Take the time to look for it in your own garden if you do not treat your lawns or forage for it sustainably and be blessed by the wonderful benefits of Plantago!

Till next time, try to utilize your plants as a benefit to your overall health, continue to get your hands dirty, walk barefoot in the grass and be still in your gardens.

Take care and be well.