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Plantago Major and Lanceolata – a Wild Edible to Know and Grow

Don’t kill that weed!

Like dandelion, plantain is an edible and medicinal plant and one of the best weeds for food and medicine.

And, it is the weed we’re talking about here, not the sweetish starchy fruit often cooked and eaten as a staple vegetable food in tropical regions of the world. That plantain in the musa, or banana family.1)

What we’re talking about is the green low leafy weed called “White Man’s Foot” by the Native American Indians. Chances are we’ve all trampled it in hikes or meadow walks… maybe even out in our yards. A common weed, plantain grows abundantly, all over the world, which is a good thing, because it is a plant with many uses.

We love plantain and are fortunate to have a lot of it growing wild in our yard and neighborhood. However, we also have dogs, so this year we’re going to actually grow some in our garden.


Plantain, or Plantago, comes in two varieties:

  • Broadleaf – (Plantago major), also known as White Man’s Footprint, because the Eurasians brought this plant to the “new world”.
  • Narrowleaf – (Plantago lanceolata), also known as ribwort, buckthorn

Edible and medicinal, this weed… herb… plant, can be eaten, steeped into tea and made into poultices and salves, using leaves, roots, seeds and flower spikes. In other words, the entire plant can be used. Plantain is our friend.

Next up are the medicinal uses and benefits of plantain. Hang with us to the last page where we have a video on the uses of the plantain seed and a cool all around “survival tool” you may want to have handy.

If you’re going to plant plantain, we recommend the broadleaf for more usable vegetation.

Next: Uses and Benefits of Plantain.

Uses and Benefits of Plantain

There are many uses and benefits of plantain. Plantain is a little bit like an aspirin: one plant (or one pill), many uses.

Plantain poultices can be used for:

  • Drawing toxins from the body, including extractive for acne and splinters
  • Bee stings, bug bites

Plantain wash can be used for:2)

  • Skin irritations
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Poison ivy/poison oak/sumac (this remedy using plantain and jewelweed is great)
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Sunburn
  • Diaper rash
  • Acne

Health Benefits of Plantain Include

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antimicrobial
  • antihemorrhagic
  • antiviral
  • expectorant actions
  • anti-toxic
  • lungs/respiratory
  • demulcent
  • emollient
  • cooling
  • vulnerary (heals wounds)
  • diuretic

Plantain Nutrition

Plantain nutrients include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K

Plantain’s Medicinal Chemical Compounds

  • allantion (wound healing and cell rejuvenation)
  • apigenin
  • aucubin  (powerful anti-toxin)
  • baicalein
  • linoleic acid
  • oleanolic acid
  • sorbitol
  • tannin


Plantain is approved by the German equivalent of the “FDA” for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation as well as topical use for skin inflammations.3)

Plantain is a medicine that grows like a weed.

The best Time to Harvest Plantain

Plantain’s medicinal and nutritive components are at their peak in early fall. However, drying plantain loses much of the medicinal benefit. Currently the best use of plantain is fresh or freshly harvested over dried to minimize the loss of plantain’s bioactive compounds.4)

plantago lanceolata
Plantain (plantago lanceolata) proliferates in fields and grass and is considered one of the nuisance weeds for those seeking lovely lawns.

Plantain (plantago lanceolata) was considered one of the nine sacred herbs of the ancient Saxons, and called the “mother of herbs” in Anglo-Saxon poetry.

Next: Plantain Salve Recipe.

Plantain  – A Versatile “First Aid” Ointment

Plantain Salve Recipe

Makes about 1 cup


    • 1 cup fresh plantain leaves gathered from an area that has not been sprayed with chemicals, chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or melted coconut oil
    • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated beeswax, tightly packed
    • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon rosemary or tea tree essential oil OR vitamin E oil, optional

There are several methods for making salve. Heather of shows two recipes, both using fresh plantain leaves, one is slower and involves steeping. The other is a “quick cook” method and involves warm-cooking in a slow cooker.5)

Or, for a plantain salve recipe using dried plantain leaves, you can find that by Stacy of

We agree with Stacy: making your own medicinal salves is like canning your own food or fermenting your own sauerkraut or pickling your own cucumbers. There’s just that special rewardingly virtuous—and empowering—feeling that comes from being responsible for the growing, preserving and preparing of your own nourishment and well being.

Next: Uses and benefits of plantain seeds.

Plantain lanceolata, narrowleaf plantain flowers.


How to Make Plantain Infusion for Plantain Salve

Video by Tina Miller

Pretty cool, right?!

And here’s part 2 of Tina’s video on how to make plantain salve.

How to Make Plantain Salve – Part 2

Video by Tina Miller

We’re looking forward to harvesting and making plantain salve this summer!

Now remember, this cannot be construed as medical advice. We are sharing information, and it is up to you to test and verify what is safe for you. Meanwhile… we’re heading outside to look for some plantain!

Our other most favorite weed? Dandelion!

Now for a deeper dive into the super useful plantain, you might be interested in what to do with plantain seeds.

Uses and Benefits of Plantain Seeds

You can also use plantain seeds! The seed heads, picked green and tender, make great pickles. If picked brown and fully ripened the seeds are very mucilaginous and react like chia seeds.

The seeds soaked in water releases the mucilage properties as with flaxseed oil. It’s a natural oil that can be used to soften and moisten skin.

Any mucilaginous liquid from the soaked seeds can also be used as an egg substitute in cooking as well as an oil for cooking.

You’ll enjoy this informative video by Billy Joe Denny on how to extract the mucilaginous properties of plantain seeds.

Stay Health and Keep on Growing!

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