Plantain the Edible 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.
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.
More About Wild Foods
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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