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(Plantago major)

Common Names:

broadleaf plantain or greater plantain


Broadleaf plantain is a very helpful medicinal plant. This is also one that is edible (though often not real palatable) so there is no real worry about toxicity from eating this plant. Of course since it is usually bitter it is not likely anybody would eat a lot of it anyway. I have eaten some during an intense rainy season in Utah and it was not near as bad as other times I've tried this plant. 

Plantain is a great option for soothing insect stings and bites and I've even heard a first hand account of it helping heal a rattle snake bite. Plantain has some amazing poison removal properties and has a long history of being used for this purpose. You can use the dried leaves or fresh and just chew them up on the spot if needed to make a quick poultice. If you prepare ahead of time you can create a salve or other herbal remedy with this plant and even mix with others such as Yarrow.



The young spears or shoots are what you eat with this plant. This is a great example that shows how a vegetable in the wild can be eaten at the right time but becomes unpalatable later in it's life. This is typical of all wild edibles generally. They will ripen to an edible point and then pass that point at which time there is little to no food benefit. This is the case with the asparagus when it goes to fern.

Asparagus is a diuretic which means it encourages the body to create urine. This is a good thing since the body flushes toxins through the urine. In addition this vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals. More details about the value of using this plant can be found with the resources below.

My Experience
I've used plantain for insect bikes and for irritated skin. My favorite use has been in a healing salve that my friend Mikhail made from the herbs in my yard. I use it for helping to heal wounds, cold sores and general dry skin. I even use it for lip balm although I think it would serve longer that way if it had more bees wax in it.

Plantain and Yarrow Healing Salve

I used plantain and yarrow salve to help heal a terrible would on my leg and foot. It had a great opportunity come up to test the healing properties of yarrow. My daughter wanted me to go with her on a bike ride but my bike was hanging up so I decided to go with her on the push scooter instead. It is a large scooter that will accommodate dad pretty well even at my height. Needless to say I am not all that great with the scooter compared to kids these days and when she stopped in front of me and I was cruising fast behind her I went sailing over the curb to avoid her. I won't show you the pics but I lost a lot of skin and I think a little bone. Two days later and it is healing well and feels very comfortable with the salve on it. That is the most major reason I have used plantain but I have also personally used it for bee stings and spider bites with fantastic relieving results.
Natural cold sore remedy
This is one I might need to test a bit more but I was stunned at how fast a cold sore healed when I applied the plantain salve to it as soon as I felt it coming on. It hardly even manifested at all and within just three days what little was there was completely healed! When abreva costs an arm and a leg and takes a week or so to work and that is the only thing I've seen that does work I was excited to see the results from my plantain/yarrow salve.
There are some variations to asparagus including a white variety mostly found in Europe.

Additional info and resources

More Plantain images
Young Plantain Plants
Young Plantain Plants

Plantain has stretchy strings inside the leaves (image credit: Tex W. Parker) 

This is an old plantain with seed heads (image credit: Tex W. Parker) 

 (image credit: Tex W. Parker)