Herbs & Plants

Plantago major

English: Plantago major, Plantaginaceae, Great...
English: Plantago major, Plantaginaceae, Greater Plantain, Common Plantain, habitus. Deutsch: Plantago major, Plantaginaceae, Breitwegerich, Habitus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Botanical Name :Plantago major
Species:P. major

Common Name :Broadleaf plantain” or “Greater plantain“,Common Plaintain

Habitat :Plantago major is native to most of Europe, including Britain, to northern and central Asia  but has widely naturalised elsewhere in the world.  It grows as a  common garden weed, particularly in lawns. Rarely in grassy places

Plantago major is an herbaceous perennial plant with a rosette of leaves 15–30 cm in diameter.


Each leaf is oval-shaped, 5–20 cm long and 4–9 cm broad, rarely up to 30 cm long and 17 cm broad, with an acute apex and a smooth margin; there are five to nine conspicuous veins.It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind. The flowers are small, greenish-brown with purple stamens, produced in a dense spike 5–15 cm long on top of a stem 13–15 cm tall (rarely to 70 cm tall).

Plaintain is wind-pollinated, and propagates primarily by seeds, which are held on the long, narrow spikes which rise well above the foliage.[8][9] Each plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds, which are very small and oval-shaped, with a bitter taste.

The plant is hardy to zone 5 is not frost tender. It is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

There are three subspecies
*Plantago major subsp. major.
*Plantago major subsp. intermedia (DC.) Arcang.
*Plantago major subsp. winteri (Wirtg.) W.Ludw.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. Although this species is a common garden weed, some named forms have been selected for their ornamental value. An important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies.

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. A sowing can be made outdoors in situ in mid to late spring if you have enough seeds.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Young leaves – raw or cooked. They are rather bitter and tedious to prepare because the fibrous strands need to be removed before use[9]. It is best not to use the leaf-stalk since this is even more fibrous than the leaf. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water before using them in salads in order to make them more tender. A Chinese form has more palatable leaves – it contains about 2.7% protein, 0.4% fat, 2.2% ash. Seed – raw or cooked. Very tedious to harvest. The seed can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. It is very rich in vitamin B1. The whole seeds can be boiled and used like sago. The dried leaves make an acceptable tea. Root. No further details.

Medicinal Uses
Antidote; Astringent; Demulcent; Deobstruent; Depurative; Diuretic; Expectorant; Haemostatic; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Poultice; Refrigerant; Vermifuge.

Plantago major quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue.  It may be used instead of comfrey in treating bruises and broken bones.  An ointment or lotion may be used to treat hemorrhoids, fistulae and ulcers.  Taken internally, common plantain is diuretic, expectorant, and decongestant. It is commonly prescribed for gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory congestion, loss of voice and urinary tract bleeding.   The seeds are closely related to psyllium seeds and can be used similarly, a tablespoon or two soaked in hot sweetened water or fruit juice until a mucilage is formed and the whole gruel drunk as a lubricating laxative.  The fresh juice can be made into a douche for vaginitis by combining two tablespoons and a pint of warm water with a pinch of table salt.  Proteolytic enzymes found in the fresh leaf and the fresh or dried root make plantain useful as a gentle internal vasoconstrictor for milk intestinal inflammation.  The fresh juice or dried leaves in tea can help bladder inflammations.  The fresh juice can be preserved with 25% vodka or 10% grain alcohol.  Take one teaspoon in warm water one hour before every meal for mild stomach ulcers.  For bed-wetting plantain leaf can be given as a beverage-strength tea throughout the day (but not right before bedtime).

Plantain roots are an old-time cure for toothaches.  Fresh, the roots used to be chewed, dried and powdered and placed in a hollow tooth as a painkiller.  The Chippewa used plantain leaves to draw out splinters from inflamed skin, and as vulnerary poultices.  They favored the fresh leaves, spreading the surface of these with bear grease before applying them and renewing the poultices when the leaves became dry or too heated.  Sometimes they replaced the bear grease with finely chopped fresh roots, or else applied the chopped roots directly to the wound.  For winter use, they greased fresh leaves and tightly wrapped stacks of them I leather.  The Iroquois used the fresh leaves to treat wounds, as well as coughs, colds, and bronchitis.  The Shoshone applied poultices made from the entire plant to battle bruises, while the Meskawaki treated fevers with a tea made from the root.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses plantain to treat urinary problems, dysentery, hepatitis and lung problems, especially asthma and bronchitis.  The seeds are used for bowel ailments.  Plantain is also found in African and southeast Asian folk medicine.  Research in India has shown its beneficial effects in treating coughs and colds.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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