Plantain (Plantago spp)
Plantain is one “weed” you must get to know! Invaluable as a first aid herb, plantain has a multitude of applications. I love getting to teach an afterschool nature kids’ class here in Starkville. If my kiddos remember one plant I teach, I hope it is this one!
Plantain is abundant just as soon as the temps warm up. She sends up this lovely, highly visible stalk, so that we may always find her. There is no better herb when a bee stings, spider, ant, and mosquito bites, or when someone gets a scrape or burn.
Plantain is the ultimate green band-aid. All it requires is gathering a few leaves, putting it in your mouth chewing it a little bit to get those green juices flowing and then, applying that good, ole fashioned spit poultice to the area. I’ve literally watched her draw a stinger out of my son’s foot. This lovely ally has also made a believer out of many in my various classes over the years when someone was stung and remembered my advice.
She is astringent (drawing), cooling (calming/anti-inflammatory) and even is anti-bacterial and antiseptic. You can see why she shines in the first aid realm.
However, she is also highly nutritious as an edible and makes a wonderful pesto! Plantain also works well for allergies, respiratory ailments and digestive issues like ulcers or heat conditions of the digestive tract. Plantain is also a great herbal ally for when poison ivy has gotten into the blood or caused allergic reactions. Give her room in your yard or garden and I promise you won’t be disappointed!