Broad Leaf Plantain, also known as Common Plantain, Greater Plantain, and historically called Englishman’s Foot, or White Man’s Foot by Native Americans, is one of the most abundant and widely distributed medicinal crops in the world. It’s a perennial broad-leaf plant that grows from spring to autumn. This highly adaptable plant was once considered a cure-all and was cultivated where ever the early settlers landed their feet. Although native to the Eurasia continents, Plantain quickly naturalized around the globe.
Plantago major starts as a low-growing basal rosette of egg-shaped leaves which make way for spikes of inconspicuous flowers borne in early summer, forming brown seeds well into fall. Plantain is highly adaptable, growing in disturbed areas, roadsides, fields, pastures, lawns, gardens, side walks, and open woods.
Plant indoors early spring through mid summer, or direct sow outdoors most anytime. Prefers cool, moist weather.
Not only is this a vital, wild plant good for overall good health, it can be used to treat chronic diarrhea as well as digestive tract disorders. The plant is packed with nutrients and is safe to ingest. In fact, the entire plant is edible, and contains a number of healing agents that are beneficial for both internal and external ailments which have been documented in English herbal books dating as far back as the 1500’s. The active chemical constituents are aucubin (an anti-microbial agent), allantoin, (stimulates cellular growth and tissue regeneration)and mucilage (reduces pain and discomfort).
The young leaves can be eaten as a fresh vegetable and makes a great addition to salads. Cook the older more fibrous leaves as you would spinach or chop and add to stir fry or stews. The young green flower stalks can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. Mature seeds can be collected, threshed and milled into a flour. The whole seed also makes a nutritious additive to rice or oatmeal. Plantain leaves are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, calcium and dietary fiber. Poultices and detoxifying tea can also be made.
Height: 4-16 inches
Zones: Perennial in zones 3-9