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Plantain the Edible Healing Weed

Updated on October 20, 2016
Plantago Major - An edible and healing weed
Plantago Major - An edible and healing weed | Source

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. | Source

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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. | Source

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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    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      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 profile image

      mvaivata 2 years ago

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      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 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      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 Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      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 Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      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 Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      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.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

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

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 2 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      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 profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      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.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      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 W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Easy Exercise profile image

      Kelly A Burnett 2 years ago from United States

      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 Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      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 Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

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

    • GiftsByDiana profile image

      Diana Burrell-Shipton 2 years ago from Hubbard, Ohio, USA

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      sujaya, Thanks for reading

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 3 years ago

      useful hub

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      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 profile image

      North Wind 3 years ago from The World (for now)

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 3 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 3 years ago

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • Barbara Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

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

      Graham.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 3 years ago from Canada

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

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

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      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 Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      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. :)