Plantago major

Plantago asiatica, Plantago borysthenica, Plantago dregeana, Plantago latifolia, Plantago sinuata, Broadleaf Plantain, common plantain, greater plantain, large plantain, dooryard plantain, white-man’s foot, cart track plant, way-bread, English Plantain, ribwort, ripple grass

Description: semi-evergreen perennial

Place of origin: Eurasia

Urban habitat: commonly found in minimally maintained lawns, urban meadows, pathways, vacant lots, roadsides, rubble dumps, highway medians, small pavement openings; can tolerate dry, compacted pH-neutral soils but thrives in moist soils.

Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground, erosion control, food for wildlife.

History: Plantago major came to North America with the arrival of European colonists, brought along for its long history of medicinal uses in European folk medicine. The plant is now found around the world. Internally, the plant has been used to treat a wide array of maladies, including diabetes, kidney stones, gonorrhea, coughs, earaches, headaches, toothaches, tumors, asthma, ulcers, rheumatism, diarrhea, gastritis, dysentery, irritable bowl syndrome, hemorrhoids, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, fevers and hay fever. Externally, it has been used to stop hemorrhaging, to treat insect bites, stings, skin inflammations, and used as an astringent. Native Americans found a variety of medicinal uses for the plant and its root, similar to the uses found by Europeans, as well as an antidote for poisonous snakebites. The leaves are edible, although they are bitter in taste and fibrous, and contain antioxident properties. The seeds can be ground and added to flours for baked goods.