Common Plantain (Plantago Major Rosularis) – The flowers of Common Plantain are shaped like small green cabbage heads. Plants grow 12 inches tall when in full bloom and are easily grown from herb seeds. The foliage is low growing and green. The name ‘Rosularis’ means rose-like referring to the look of the flower heads which are shaped like double roses. Common Plantain will self-seed readily by dropping its seeds and forming new Plantain herbs the following spring. Other names for this herb are Greater Plantain and Rat Tail Plantain.
The young, tender leaves of the Common Plantain plant are edible, and can be used as a salad green of cooked and eaten like spinach. The taste is that of very bitter salad greens with a lingering aftertaste not unlike spinach. Plantain herb plants had historical medicinal use as a wound healer and snakebite remedy, and today the Plantain herbs have been found to have scientific merit. The Common Plantain plant is also enjoyed by butterfly larvae and if allowed to seed, birds eat the dried seeds.
How To Grow Common Plantains: In a prepared seedbed, sow the Plantain seeds directly outside in the early spring. Lightly cover the herb seeds with soil and keep moist.
Plantain may be susceptible to powdery mildew. This fungus causes lesions to appear, which can eventually spread over entire stem and leaf surfaces.
Even Shakespeare mentioned it in several of his plays.
Leaves can be harvested at any time during the growing season – before, during, or after flowering.
Fresh or dried leaves can also be brewed as a tea. To make an infusion, add 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb to a cup of water, or about double that quantity if the herb is used fresh.
Or, if you prefer the English variety, P. lanceolata seeds are available for purchase from Outsidepride via Amazon.
Around 327 BC, Alexander the Great was said to have noted the culinary and medicinal use of plantain while in India, and brought the plant back with him to Europe.
Root harvest is best done in the fall, when the plants’ energy is directed downward, away from the leaves. Just pull up a plant and gather the roots.