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Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

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Plantago_major_Sturm59

Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) illustration (By: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen, 1796 - Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm))


Season: Spring & Summer


Urban, Rural or Both: Both


Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major). This plant has no connection with the fruit that looks like a Banana that is also called a Plantain. It is a leafy green found in waste places, paths, lawns in full to part sun. There are many variations of the Plantain, but the best one for eating is the Broadleaf.

You can use the fresh, young leaves raw on a salad, but I have to say, I'm not really keen on them. Not bad tasting, but the chewy texture, dry/nothing taste isn't my favourite. However, used steamed or chopped up and a little in soups, or other cooked foods, it makes a good, healthy green. Not a green to serve by itself, but with others greens, or just as one of many ingredients, it is quite useful. Leaves must be young and immature, or they will be stringy.

The biggest problem with the Broadleaf Plantain is where it seems to be found. By paths, waste areas, lawns, etc. You never know if a dog took a pee on it by a path, what the soil is like in some waste areas, or if chemicals were used on the lawn. So, if you can find it where you are confident it is not contaminated from above or below, by all means use it as a cooked green. Once the flower spikes come up, it gets tougher and stringy, so not worth it after that unless you boil it well, chop it fine and add to food. Before you add it, make sure it is still not too stringy.

One of the nice things about it in foods, is it has soothing qualities, and is a nice green to include with hot foods.


Growing this plant in your home garden:

They produce a lot of seeds on the ends of the long thin seed heads. Gather when mature, rub between the hands over the area you want them, tamp lightly, put over a very thin layer of fine mulch, and there should be no problem getting a good crop.

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Plantain page.


Description:

Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


Plantago_major

Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) plant. (By: Javier martin)


Illustration_Plantago_major0_clean

Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) illustration. I love these old illustrations of plants, so I couldn't resist two of them on this page. The detail is so helpful for learning about the plant. (By: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany)


Plantago_major_subsp._major.jpg

Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) leaf and flower stalk. (By: Rasbak GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)


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Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) flowers up close. (By: H. Zell GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)


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Broadleaf Plantain, Common Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) seeds. (Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)





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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching
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