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Plantain the Edible Healing Weed

Plantago Major - An edible and healing weed

Plantago Major - An edible and healing weed

Plantain (Plantago major) is also known as fleawort and grows almost anywhere in the world. The weed is both edible and used as a poultice.

If your yard is like mine, it grows everywhere you don't want it. I pulled so many of these weeds out of my one flower bed last year that it was unreal. Having such a useful weed in the garden is a blessing that I hadn't realized at the time.

You can also find this plant growing in sidewalk cracks and along roadsides. So, even those that live in the city won't have a short supply. I would be careful though, if you are going to eat it. Pollution from cars can deposit harmful chemicals on the plant. Even dogs can urinate on it. Ugh! You don't want to eat it then.

Plantain is Edible and Good for You

Plantain is both edible and healthy. Since it is so available, you can add it to your meals and save on produce costs. As with any weed, be sure you are identifying it properly. Start with just a small amount as with any new food to be sure you aren't allergic to it.

If you use pesticides or herbicides on your lawn, don't pick it there. Along busy roadsides may not be a good idea either. The exhaust fumes from cars may leave undesirable chemicals on the leaves. You may not know what pesticides were used on the roadside or what other pollution from vehicles has affected it.

If you can find a sizeable batch of this weed though, it can be a a healthy addition to your diet. Small new leaves taste best. At around four inches is optimal. Once you cut it, new leaves will grow. The older leaves can be tough and taste a little bitter.

Since the plant is related to spinach, you can prepare it much the same as the cooked version. Boil it until tender and than add salt and butter. Add young leaves to salads.

Another method of preparation is frying it in olive oil. Try both methods and see what you like best.

The plantain growing between these bricks is just at the right stage to pick for eating.

The plantain growing between these bricks is just at the right stage to pick for eating.

Health Benefits

Spinach is in the same family, so it has most of the same benefits. The leaves are a good source of iron, The plant is a good source of Vitamin A and C also.

Prepared as a tea, the plant is said to help inflammation. It also can be used as an antiseptic.

Plantain can be a pain when it grows in the garden.

Plantain can be a pain when it grows in the garden.

Medicinal Uses

Plantain can be made into a tea and used to help with indigestion or heartburn. Some say the tea can be used to lower blood sugar which would be handy for diabetics.

Besides being taken internally the plant can be used externally for many uses. The weed has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. If you have an insect bite, just crush the leaves in your hands and apply it to the bite.The best way to crush them is by chewing them and then applying them to the bite. Mosquito bites will stop itching and this is the most well known method of using the plant.

Another method is to mix the leaves with beeswax or a lotion and apply to bites. It works well for poison ivy too.

You can also place the leaves in a blender and make into a liquid. The kids will think it is cool when their skin turns green and it will help the itch. Tell them that they can pretend to be aliens from outer space. The green will wash right away.

The leaves will relieve itching from bites. Make a tea and store it in a spray bottle for later use.

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Comments

Ava on June 08, 2019:

That’s awesome I learned so much about a weed that just grows in my backyard I’ve heard about it being good for you but never thought that good

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on March 25, 2015:

mvaivata, Thanks for reading. I'm sure you had lots of it in Indiana, because it grows here in Michigan everywhere it can find a bare spot. I hope you find some to use where you are at. I've noticed it doesn't like sandy ground.

mvaivata on March 25, 2015:

Excellent Hub! I'm not sure I see a lot of this where I live now, but I'm pretty sure we had these all over where I grew up in Indiana. I wish I had known more about medicinal "weeds" back then!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on March 18, 2015:

AliciaC, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the hub. You'll be sure to find some in the summer months if your area is like ours. Thanks for commenting.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2015:

Thanks for sharing this useful information. I love to find wild plants that are good to eat! It's great when they have medicinal benefits as well.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 27, 2015:

poetryman6869, There are two types of plantain. One grows like weeds all over and the other does produce fruit that looks like bananas. Thanks for your comments.

poetryman6969 on February 26, 2015:

I thought this was just a banana like plant. Well at least I have a backup for dandelions once the Zombie Apocalypse hits! More doomsday survival food is a good thing.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 21, 2015:

Shades-of-truth, I hope you like the plantain. Thanks for reading.

Emily Tack from USA on February 21, 2015:

I have NOT eaten plantain, but I will, now! I eat lots of things that grow on our property, but was not even aware of this one. You have spurred my interest!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 18, 2015:

RTalloni, Thanks for reading. If we ever have a famine, we'll be all set with this weed. My garden overflows with them in the spring.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 18, 2015:

pstaubie48, Someone else mentioned that they add it to lettuce salads on a regular basis. You should try that too. Thanks for commenting.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 18, 2015:

Ben, I'll have try the tea. I haven't had the courage yet. Thanks for reading.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 18, 2015:

aesta1, My garden was just full of them last year. That is the nice thing about them, they are everywhere and you don't have to look.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 18, 2015:

Peggy W, Thanks for reading. I don't know if you can find some in Texas or not. The stuff grows all over the world, so I would think so.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 17, 2015:

I have seen these in our garden but I always considered these weeds. Time to give it a try.

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on February 17, 2015:

I've been using wild plantain as a tea and a green for a couple years now, love it, especially for sour stomach.

Ben

RTalloni on February 17, 2015:

Interesting to learn of the uses of this weed. Should've guessed that I needed to check out this hardy and plentiful garden guest! Thanks much for the heads up on it.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 17, 2015:

Never have tried these but will see if any are around.

I do enjoy dandelion greens so am open to any new salad foods.

Angels are on the way to you today ps

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 16, 2015:

What an informative hub! I will have to search for some to see if I can spot it in our yard or in our greenbelt area. Up votes and will pin and share.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 10, 2015:

Easy Exercise, Thank your for sharing and voting it up. I happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

Kelly A Burnett from United States on February 10, 2015:

Barbara-Kay,

On my list of life's todos is learning my weeds. I even have a book that is about 2 1/2 inches thick. You made the subject enjoyable. Thank you! Voted up! And I will be sure to share with my garden friends! Shared out on Google + with my garden circle.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on January 22, 2015:

peachpurple, I don't think I would eat those either than. The same thing would happen if you had a garden.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 21, 2015:

but, how do we know which weeds can be eaten and my cat pees and poos in the garden too, i don't think so i would eat those weeds

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on January 13, 2015:

Writer Fox, I wonder if you'll find it in Israel. It grows everywhere here in Michigan.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on January 13, 2015:

I had not heard of this plant before, Barbara. I'll be on the lookout for it now! Interesting information.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on December 15, 2014:

Perspycacious, Thanks for letting us know to do this. I hadn't heard this before.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on December 14, 2014:

Two bites at once from a brown recluse spider could very easily have led to serious injury. Discoloring, swellimg. and radiating pain was starting. Quickly chewed plantain was applied to both bites, and within a week the after effects were disappearing.

Had an unknowing person gone to an emergency room for treatment the delay in treatment could have resulted in the serious skin wounds typical of even one such bite.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 27, 2014:

GiftsbyDiana, Thanks for commenting. It is amazing what never became popular to use for food and medicine.

Diana Burrell-Shipton from Hubbard, Ohio, USA on October 27, 2014:

I'm an organic gardener too and I love plantain and use it in a salve that I make for my family.

I love using what other consider weeds for my medicine :)

I haven't eaten any yet - that's next on my list.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 15, 2014:

David Stone, If there is a food shortage, there will never be a shortage of this weed! Thanks for reading.

David Stone from New York City on October 14, 2014:

Ingenious. I had no idea this weed is so useful. Think of how many thousands I've carelessly stepped on!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 26, 2014:

sujaya, Thanks for reading

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 26, 2014:

Shyron, Well, using it for Halloween is a different idea. Thanks for reading and voting it up and sharing.

sujaya venkatesh on September 26, 2014:

useful hub

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 25, 2014:

I never thought of eating this before, but I am going to try it. It would be fun to drink the juice of this plant and turn green for Halloween.

Great hub, voted up, UABI and shared.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 03, 2014:

midget, That is a great idea. I hadn't thought about using it for that. Thanks for reading.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 03, 2014:

A new vegetable! A great one to put in veggie juices too!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 26, 2014:

North Wind, I had a problem with it in the yard where we use to live, but at the time didn't know it was edible or had healing properties either. You should be able to find some, since it grows everywhere. Thanks for reading.

North Wind from The World (for now) on August 26, 2014:

I have never heard of it before. When I read plantain I thought you were talking about the fruit that is related to bananas. I eat that all the time. This weed does look familiar. I will have to search my yard and surrounding areas to see if it grows there. I always say that there are lots of plants with healing properties we just do not know about. Very interesting!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 18, 2014:

Nell Rose, I think you'll be surprised where you can find plantain. It seems to be everywhere. Thanks for commenting.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 18, 2014:

aviannovice, You are right about Monsanto. It isn't as save to eat wild things anymore.

Nell Rose from England on August 18, 2014:

I have heard of it, but we don't have it in my brothers garden, so many health properties to it, I will have to check out the health shop as they sell herbs and edible plants in there, great hub! nell

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 18, 2014:

Nice! I never knew about any of this until now. Sadly, everywhere one turns now is full of Monsanto's pesticides. Wish I was still in Maine, where none was used on my property.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 13, 2014:

Pico, You are lucky if mosquitoes don't bother you. My bites swell up huge. Thanks for commenting.

John from New Brunswick, Canada on August 12, 2014:

Didn't know it was related to spinach. We have eaten it in salads before. I found the larger leaves had a grainy texture to them while chewing. We will eat them again if I can convince the gang to pick. Didn't know it could relieve the itch from mosquito bites. Rest of the family will find that useful. I'm immune, no reaction at all. Friends assume I'm somehow not getting bit like everyone else.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 11, 2014:

MizBejabbers, I've read one of those books from the 70's too and I was a little afraid too unless it was so recognizable that I couldn't be wrong. I am still afraid of the mushroom ones. My yard is full of plantain too and I'm trying to spread the news about this useful weed. Thanks for commenting.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 11, 2014:

I'm glad to know about plantain because we have a yard full of it. My grandma taught me about doc, but she never fixed it for me. I have a book of edible Arkansas weeds that was written in the 1970s, but it has pencil sketches of the plants instead of photos, and I'm a little nervous about some of them. It might be easy to mistake harmful ones and ingest them.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 10, 2014:

Graham, I'm happy you found something you could use. Thanks.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 10, 2014:

teaches12345, I can almost guarantee you will be able to find some. Remember that you want newer leaves for eating.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on August 10, 2014:

Hi Barbara. Thank you for this informative hub. I learn something of value every day on these pages. Great stuff.

Graham.

Dianna Mendez on August 10, 2014:

I am going on the hunt for this in my yard. If it is similar to spinach I will love it. Thanks for the information.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 08, 2014:

Kaili, That is what I thought when I pulled it out in my one garden. Maybe I'll let it grow now.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on August 08, 2014:

Wow, I have this where my grass is supposed to be...never knew it was edible. At least my lawn will be good for something now :-)

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 07, 2014:

ologsinquito, I'll have to read some of your hubs too. There are so many medicinal weeds that people don't know about.

ologsinquito from USA on August 07, 2014:

I was working on a related article when I saw this. It's good that people know about these wild growing foods and medicines.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 07, 2014:

Bill, I'm going to do a whole series on edible weeds. After researching, I think you could live on these if you had to do it. Thanks for your comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 07, 2014:

Yes, it's in our yard and yes, we eat it. :) Nice thing about salads is that there are so many things to put in them that are easy to grow and plentiful...dandelions and nasturtiums are two of our favorites. :)