Edible Plants of New York: Why do cultures around the world cherish the other plantain?

Common plantain, or in Latin, Plantago major is a common weed of lawns, and can be found growing next to common dandelion. However, many people have forgotten about the life-affirming benefits from consuming this plant.

You can go out into your backyard to pick the young leaves. When you have enough, you can enjoy them in a salad, or even into a smoothie! The seeds can be dried and pounded in flour, or also placed in your blender. Have you ever heard of psyllium husk? Simply put, psyllium husk is actually made up of plantain seeds!

Let’s get Technical!


Characteristics (borrowed from GoBotany)

Flower petal color: other, white

Leaf type: the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets

Leaf arrangement: (basal) the leaves are growing only at the base of the plantLeaf

Blade edge: the edge of the leaf blade has teeth, the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)

Flower symmetry: there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)

Fruit type: (general) the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe

Indigenous Use(s)

Plantain Salve

1) “Ethnobotanical survey of Zagori (Epirus, Greece), a renowned centre of folk medicine in the past” is one study in which villages in north-west Greece were studied. The researchers found that the people there, use over 100 different species of plants for medicine (and plantain is one of them)! No wonder Greece is home to super-centenarians!

2) “Ethnobotanical Uses, Chemical Constituents, and Application of Plantago lanceolata L.” is a second study that looked at Plantago lanceolata. The researchers note that the plant has been used in China for over 3,000 years!

3) “Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants in Kazeroon, Iran: Identification, Distribution and Traditional Usage” is a third study in which the researchers found that the indigenous people consider three species in the genus Plantago to be medicinal. If you want help remembering what a “genus” means, see my other article to learn more.

4) “Ethnobotanical study of the medicinal plants from Tlanchinol, Hidalgo, México” is a fourth study that affirms the the medicinal uses of Plantago australis. Specifically, the respiratory system is noted.

5) “Ethnobotany of Jeju Island, Korea” is a fifth article that mentions Plantago asiatica 34 times by the studied!

6) Lastly, according to the North American Ethnobotanical Database, Plantago is mentioned in 191 searches by Native Americans.



In conclusion, you don’t need your modern grocery store to enjoy this plant. All you need is the willingness, knowledge, and an intact landscape to hold space for this plant.

This plant has helped heal from wounds and stings, and has served as a delicious additive to my crazy smoothies and salads!

I know it’s modern and cool to forage, and I want you to continue! Please do responsibly and in sovereignty.

If you have any more questions about this plant, please reach out. Give our new video a watch as well. Thanks for reading!

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