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Permaculture Plants: Plantain


    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

    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)

    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.
    • 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.

    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)

    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)


    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!

    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.
    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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