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Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf Plantain Plantago Major

It’s that time of year again when so called “weeds” begin to appear in our yards.  Here at the Kulturology Soap Company we rarely meet a weed we don’t like so before you consider spraying this useful plant with some noxious chemical please read this post.  You might find yourself  bent over picking the tender leaves like we do every year!!

What is Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf Plantain or Plantago major is a low growing plant with broad, oval shaped leaves 2-8 inches long and 2-3 inches wide.  Its deeply veined leaves arranged in a rosette serve as the base for the small unremarkable spike shaped flower growing atop a long stem.  This wind pollinated plant is a seed producing powerhouse…A typical seed head can contain up to 20,000 seeds!!  Broadleaf Plantain is native to most of Europe but has a remarkable ability to naturalize itself to even the most challenging growing conditions such as cracks in sidewalks or roadways.  Combined with its ability to naturalize to almost any growing conditions it is no wonder one of the plants common names is “white man’s foot” due to its emergence everywhere the first white settlers to the Americas landed!

Broadleaf Plantain
Broadleaf Plantain

Uses

Broadleaf Plantain has a long history as a healing herb and is still referred to as ‘slan-lus’ or plant of healing in the Highlands.

Pliny the Elder claimed it could cure the “madness of dogs” and is sometimes called ‘snakeweed’ in the US due to the belief it could heal snake bites.  In an ancient Anglo-Saxon text,  plantain (called Waybroad) is one of nine sacred herbs and is included in a recipe for “salve for flying venom”:

‘Take a handful of hammer wort and a handful of maythe (chamomile) and a handful of waybroad and roots of water dock, seek those which will float, and one eggshell full of clean honey, then take clean butter, let him who will help to work up the salve, melt it thrice: let one sing a mass over the worts, before they are put together and the salve is wrought up.’

The recipe seems a bit dramatic and overly complex to us so we have included a simpler version below!  It is an easy way of preserving the goodness this plant has to offer.  The oil can be used alone or in combination with other herbal oils.  We use it liberally in our BooBoo Balm and always have it on hand for the inevitable bug bites and scrapes we get working the gardens.

Plantain oil
Plantain Oil

Broadleaf Plantain Herbal Oil

Pick the leaves in the early morning after the dew has dried.  Be sure to pick only leaves that you know have not been treated with herbicides!  Fill a clean glass jar 2/3 full with leaves and top the jar off with oil of your choice.  We prefer organic, extra virgin olive oil due to its long shelf life and its own skin friendly qualities.  Place the jar in a protected sunny location for 30 days, giving the jar a good shake every day or so.  Strain the oil through a colander and then through cheesecloth to remove leaves and sediment then bottle in amber glass and store in a dark cabinet.  The oil can be used straight from the bottle for bug bites, diaper rash, sunburn etc.

Happy Plantain picking!! We hope to see you in the fields!!