Monday, 19 December 2016

Plantain (the herb, not the banana)

Plantain (plantago spp.) is the one herb everyone needs to know about, especially kids or people who have them. It's one of the first aid plants that grow under right our noses (well, feet) where and when needed for bug bites & stings, splinters, or skinned knees; pretty much anything untoward that our outside surfaces can come up against, plantain can soothe and heal. Infected cut? Blister? Plantain.

It does the same for our insides, too. Abscess in your mouth? (ouch!) Plantain. Raw sore throat? Stomach ulcer? Plantain.

This ever so useful, ever so weedy herb grows no matter where you are in the world, in one form or another, tropical or arctic-al (is that a word? it is now). Don't try to tell me you don't have plantain, because you do.

It grows in sidewalk cracks. It grows at the edges of parking lots and it loves driveways. It thrives under the worst of conditions, in compacted soil .. so .. okay, maybe if you have perfect loam in your flower beds and a perfectly groomed lawn then you might not have plantain. Stop spraying, though, and it will show up soon enough. (please stop spraying). And go check your local playground, it's there.

I've written long and lovingly about plantain many a time, so I won't rewrite it all, instead I'll take you back in time - here are my plantain stories in one post (most of them).

We use plantain ointment lavishly; Paul's nose was sore from blowing and it fixed him right up in 2 applications. It's good stuff to have around the house, so here is my method for ointment. (That's an old post too but yes, if you want, I can still send you a sample, I'm about to make another big batch).

This post has pictures  that I think are more realistic than most you'll see - plantain on a driveway. There's nettles in that post too, because, well, nettles and plantain are pals.

And below is a darn good video; three of my favourite herbalists with their takes on plantain. jim mcdonald is always so good at explaining for beginners but not boring the old hands (not to mention he's handsome), Matthew Wood is not the greatest speaker ever but his information is always, always (always!) worthwhile, and Brigitte Mars has a couple of tidbits near the end there that even I didn't know. Plantain seed styling gel?? Who knew?

Got any plantain stories to share? Questions? Fire away!


  1. Re: "arctic-al" -- the proper term for the far Northern Hemisphere is "Boreal." (For the Southern Hemisphere it's Austral.)

    1. Well yes. Inside joke. Bit of a clunker, admittedly!

  2. Last summer, we got so little rain and a few showers we got, dumped a white dusty layer of something on plants which I have no name for. Although plantain was everywhere, none had a healthy look to go into an ointment. Maybe next year.

    I used the plantain ointment you had sent me a year ago. I get this dry and itchy skin recently around my hairline. After rubbing the plantain ointment a couple of times on, there was an immediate relief of itch. Dryness is still there but not as much as before. I think if I used the ointment regularly, it would have helped more. My cats made a toy out of it, and it is lost somewhere in the house.