Herb: Common Plantain

Latin name: Plantago major

Family: Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Medicinal use of Common Plantain:

Common plantain is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic and refrigerant. Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever. They are used externally in treating skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings etc. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, swellings etc. The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Marrubium vulgare. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.

Description of the plant:


12 cm
(4 3/4 inch)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

A common garden weed, particularly in lawns. Rarely in grassy places.

Edible parts of Common Plantain:

Young leaves - raw or cooked. They are rather bitter and tedious to prepare because the fibrous strands need to be removed before use. It is best not to use the leaf-stalk since this is even more fibrous than the leaf. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water before using them in salads in order to make them more tender. A Chinese form has more palatable leaves - it contains about 2.7% protein, 0.4% fat, 2.2% ash. Seed - raw or cooked. Very tedious to harvest. The seed can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. It is very rich in vitamin B1. The whole seeds can be boiled and used like sago. The dried leaves make an acceptable tea. Root. No further details.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. A sowing can be made outdoors in situ in mid to late spring if you have enough seeds.

Cultivation of Common Plantain:

A common garden weed, particularly in lawns. Rarely in grassy places.

Known hazards of Plantago major:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.