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Permaculture Plants: Plantain




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    Plantain is a weed I would welcome.
    Common Plantain (Plantago major)
     

    Common Name: Plantain

    Scientific Name: Plantago species
    Family: Plantaginaceae (the Plantain family)
     
    Common Species:
    • Psyllium (Plantago afra)
    • Che Qian Zi (Plantago asiatica)
    • Buck’s-Horn Plantain (Plantago coronopus)
    • Ribwort/Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
    • Common/Broadleaf/Greater Plantain (Plantago major)
    • Sea Plantain (Plantago maritima)
    • Hoary Plantain (Plantago media)
    • Blond Plantain (Plantago ovate)
    • Fleawort (Plantago psyllium)
     
    Sea Plantain (Plantago maritima) is considered one of the best tasting Plantains

    Description:
    Plantain is considered a common lawn weed. However, it has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal plant (for inflammation, bleeding, and infections) as well as a potherb and salad green. It is also a great addition to the Forest Garden, as it attracts beneficial insects, is a dynamic mineral accumulator, is tolerant of drought, and is a great forage crop for animals.

    Common Plantain (Plantago major)

    History:
    Native to Europe and Asia, and used for thousands of years as a medicinal (primarily) and food (secondarily) plant. It has spread easily, typically with accidental introduction of seeds, and found new homes around the world. It is seen as a lawn weed in most “modern” cultures, but is still used by traditional, or tradionally-minded, people as food and medicine.
     
    Trivia:
    • Many of the Plantago species are used in the commercial preparation of dietary fiber supplements known as Psyllium.
    • Plantain, while originally from Europe, was introduced to North America with European settlers, hence the name “white man’s foot.”
     
    The fibrous stands in Plantain can be removed before eating.

    USING THIS PLANT
    Primary Uses:
    • Edible Leaves – decent taste, but most species are fibrous unless strands removed first (young leaves are most tender), often blanched to make more tender. Most often used as flavor/nutrition addition to mixed salads (reportedly the best eating are Buck’s-Horn and Sea Plantain)
    • Edible Seeds – takes lots of time to harvest, but can be eaten raw or cooked or ground as flour addition. Considered a great fiber source.
    • Medicinal Species – long history as anti-bleeding and anti-swelling
     
    Secondary Uses:
    • General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
    • Maritime Species
    • Pioneer Species
    • Drought-Tolerant Species
    • Wildlife food
    • Feed plant for domestic animals – chickens will eat the seeds (let them harvest themselves!) and greens sparingly
    • Dye Plant
    • Tea Plant – dried or fresh leaves
     
    Yield: Not applicable/No good information available
    Harvesting: Anytime there are green leaves on the plant. Seeds are harvested Summer-Autumn
    Storage: Use leaves fresh or dry immediately. Seeds are used fresh or dried immediately.
     
     
    Platain flowers attract numerous beneficial insects
    Common Plantain (Plantago major)
     
     

    DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
    USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-15 (although some species are less cold tolerant)
    Chill Requirement: Unlikely, but no reliable information available
     
    Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
    Leaf Type: Deciduous
    Forest Garden Use: Herbaceous Layer
    Cultivars/Varieties: Many species available. Some have been improved as ornamentals.
     
    Pollination: Self-Pollinating/Self-Fertile
    Flowering: May-September
     
    Life Span:
    No good information, but likely irrelevant as Plantago species reseed on their own so easily… just ask any lawn-Nazi!

    Ribwort/Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) has longer thinner leaves than Common Plantain (Plantago major)

     

    PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
    Size: 4-24 inches (10-60 centimeters) tall and wide – depending on the species
    Roots: Many species have fibrous roots, but some (Plantago lanceolata) have a taproot
    Growth Rate: Fast
     
     
    Plantain seed heads harvested and ready for further processing… or feed like this to chickens!
     
     

    GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
    Light: Prefers full sun
    Shade: Does not tolerate much shade
    Moisture: Medium to Wet soils
    pH: can tolerate a wide range of soils
     
    Special Considerations for Growing:
    Plantago species are considered weeds because they can grow almost anywhere at anytime. This is a great problem to have, in my opinion; but neighbors with highly manicured lawns may not agree. Of course, I will never live that close to a neighbor again if I can help it!
     
    Propagation: Typically by seed – direct sow in Spring. Can transplant “wild” specimens. Many locations already have their own populations; just encourage their growth.
     
    Maintenance:
    None
     
    Concerns:
    As with many “weed” species, Platain may cause an allergic reaction in some people (very few). Always try a new food in small amounts to see how you will react.

     
    Another image of Common Plantain (Plantago major)
    Original Article Here

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