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Monday, 23 June 2014

Broadleaf (Plaintain) Backyard Bandaid

     In many parts of the world this plant is widely recognized. Plantago major's common names include broadleaf plantain, common plantain, ripple grass, white man's foot, and snakeweed to name a few, but other names also have meaning related to life. Where I live a lot of people would recognize it as a hardy weed that grows in between cracks and on lawns, and trails, and just about anywhere that is can pop up. Although not everyone appreciates broadleaf plantain's presence on the front lawn, it is sometimes selected for its elegant appearance with broad, symmetrical leaves and slender stalks growing out the middle. Matured leaves grow large and tough, and the parallel veins that run through them are strong.
     However, unbeknown to many who probably walk by them every day this plant has some practical applications. The young tender leaves make a nutritious salad containing vitamin C, and the leaves and seeds actually have medicinal properties. 
      It contains many different compounds with medicinal uses  such as:
(A more comprehensive list can be read at in the sources)

  • antibacterial
  • astringent
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antiseptic
  • laxative

     Perhaps one of the most simple (but still effective) uses of plantain is as a poultice. Applied and bound to open wounds, insect bites, splinters spots, or blisters, it can help aid in the healing process. 
     A poultice can be easily made by using a mortar and pestle (or spoon and plate if you don't have a mortar and pestle) to crush the leaves to a pulp which can be mixed with a small amount of water. Unless you are at home it is likely that you may not have a mortar and pestle available at the time of a bug bite while walking in the woods. It is always best to clean a wound first, but if plantain is available you can actually chew or bite on a leaf (without swallowing) so that the juices are excreted and use it on scrapes or insect bites.

Lone Pine Ontario Nature Guide by Krista Kagume

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