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Also known as English plantain, narrowleaf plantain, ribwort plantain,[1] ribleaf, buckhorn plantain, buckhorn, and lamb's tongue.


This Little Weed is one of the Most Useful Medicines on the Planet


You’ve stepped on it, ignored it, and tried to eradicate it from your lawn. However, this innocuous little weed is one of the most useful medicines on the planet, just begging to be harvested.

Plantain has often been the go-to remedy for hikers plagued by mosquitos. Because it draws toxins from the body with its astringent nature, plantain may be crushed (or chewed) and placed as a poultice directly over the site of bee stings, bug bites, acne, slivers, glass splinters, or rashes. Bandage the area and allow the plantain to work its magic for 4-12 hours. Plantain may also be used to create a balm for emergency kits, or an infusion used as a skin or general wash. It is also a notable, soothing remedy for hemorrhoids.There are two major types of plantain in BC, Canada: Lance and Broadleaf. Generally, all 200-plus varieties of plantain yield the same results. It grows especially well in poor, rocky soil (such as driveways) and is often seen alongside dandelion. More often than not, you will see plantain growing in gravel pits and construction sites as nature seeks to regenerate the soil. Introduced to North America in the 1600s, it was once called “White Man’s Foot” by the Native Americans who witnessed that where the Europeans tread and disrupted the soil, plantain sprung up.


Plantain is renowned for its healing effect on the digestive system. This is especially useful for anyone who has been damaged by antibiotics, anti-inflammatory or pain medications, food allergies, or Celiac disease. Both leaves and seeds specifically target the digestive system for healing. The leaves may be steeped as tea, added to soups, or dried with a sauce similar to kale chips. The seeds – a type of psyllium – can be ground or soaked for bulk mucilage or absorbable fibre, which, consumed before meals, may help with weight loss.

Because plantain is a gentle expectorant and high in silica, an infusion can be helpful for lung problems, coughs, and colds.

Plantain is almost a panacea for the human body, treating everything from all menstrual difficulties, all digestive issues, to nearly all skin complaints, and even arthritis. Add to salads, chew to ease thirst, or enjoy in stir fries. This versatile wild vegetable will keep you in good health for years to come!

About The Author 

- Prescription for Herbal Healing: 2nd Edition – Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
- Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal – Jeannine Parvati
- Healing Secrets of the Native Americans – Porter Shimer
- The New Age Herbalist – Richard Mabey

Jess Smith is a healer and raw wildcrafter living in the Fraser Valley, BC Canada. A lifelong student and advocate of herbal medicine, she grew up foraging the forests of BC. She runs a complementary healing practice, and, with her toddler, she enjoys teaching others about the wild abundance outside our…

June 2015

This Narrow Leafed Plantain is currently growing in my back yard all by itself. Only the second to ever come up.

I distributed seed (or what I hoped was seed as I couldn't see any in the flower stalks) around from the first which was growing in my front yard but nothing came up.

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The picture shows a broad leaf Plantain. I've only ever seen the thin leaf version around Brisbane myself.

Looks familiar, need to keep an eye out for it.

I've only just found this group!  I purchased the broadleaf plantain from Northey St a few years ago -which self seeded, but I think all have died out. I have heaps of the thin leaved one,  the bees love that type too.  The previous neighbours had knowledge of herbs and told me of the medicinal properties of this plant and also said they used it to help ease the pain of wasp and bee stings.  I must use it for some of the other things you have mentioned - thank you.

I bought a plant of the broad leaf from Yandina Community Gardens the other week. The narrow leafed one I had come up spontaneously in the front yard grew, flowered and disappeared. I threw seed around and hopefully more will come up.

I've used the chewed up leaves of this plant for bee sting and it seemed to help very quickly. Otherwise I was just eating it as a wild green.

The Broad leafed plant has long disappeared from garden and memory. The Narrow leaf seems to like it better around here.

I continue to eat the Plantain that comes up around my yard. Seems to grow best in the cooler months. There were a few came up around where the mower man leaves cuttings for me. I pick the leaves and use them in stews mostly.

Ha, just after I posted that I don't forage for edible weeds, I go join ... 

I had to share another usage that many may know, but I got a little excited to see this ...

NSW DPI Narrow Leaf Plantain ... It's also listed as a mix for pasture.

I'll be looking for this around, as I'm interested in the stings application, and diversity for the Goats is always good.

I used it on a bee sting and it worked! Chewed it up and put it on the sting and it took the pain away in moments. Maybe I have magic spit too.

This plant seems to grow well around here. I also get Fat Hen, Galen soga (Gallant Soldier), Amaranth, Sow thistles, Dandelions, Mallow among others. Wish there were more foraging trips organised by knowledgeable people but I can't track any down apart from Adam Grubb doing the odd outing.

Thanks for the reminder about using this weed which grows so easily.  I occasionally use young dandelion leaves, gotu kola, fat hen and amaranth. There's quite a lot of yellow dock and purslane, but I avoid them due to oxalic acid.  I tell my husband to stop pulling these weeds out, as having them in the lawn helps add nutrients to the lawn clipping's mulch - even cobbler's pegs makes a good compost tea when I can be bothered making it.

It's such a good looking wild edible. Some of the others lack the same visual appeal.


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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

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