Plantain

King of the Roadsides

Plantain can be used to treat minor wounds, insect bites or stings from nettles. Simply crush a Plantain leaf or chew and place on the wound to stem blood flow. It also acts as a disinfectant and helps wounds heal more quickly.

Etymology

The scientific name ‘Plantago lanceolata’ refers to the Latin ‘planta’ meaning sole of the foot. The species name ‘lanceolata’ refers to the leaf shape – spear or lance-shaped.

In brief

Habitat: In central Europe on dry grassland and meadows and by roadsides from meadow plains up to altitudes of over 2,000 m.
Key feature: The upright stem is ribbed and therefore 'stable'. Distinctive flower heads or oblong inflorescences have numerous anthers.
Flowering season: May to September
Harvest: The herb in flower without roots: May to June
Active ingredients: Mucilage and Aucubin (glycoside)

Native American folklore...

According to native American herbal remedies, Plantain is ‘White Man’s Footstep’. In other words, the plant is a companion while venturing onto new paths.

…German herbalism…

The German name for Plantain similarly refers to the path or way. The plant grows ‘on the way to forming and sharpening our character’.

…and the herbalist, Hildegard von Bingen

“Plantain is a powerful purging herb (purifying) and can release one from obsessive love.” In other words, the herb can free us from any form of harmful dependency. Given that being free is associated with clear airways, Plantain is mainly effective for treatment of the upper respiratory tract.

Gallery

Companion and good for the respiratory tract

Plantain is the best companion for setting out on new paths. The reason for this: its leaves can be used as insoles to warm tired feet or wrap bare feet in. The seeds contain mucilage that becomes glutinous when mixed with water, clinging to the sole of the foot and protecting from rough stones. Plantain is also useful for treating scratches, abrasions, insect bites, burns and rashes. Its cleansing action is mainly helpful for the respiratory tract: mucilage has an anti-inflammatory action for the mouth and throat; it prevents coughs and acts as an expectorant. Also suitable for relieving irritation caused by catarrh in the upper respiratory tract.