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Broad-leaved Plantain

Scientific Names: Plantago major
Other names: Bird's Meat, Common Plantain, Great Plantain, Rat-tail Plantain, White Man's Foot
Family: Plantaginaceae

Evergreen perennial, spreading by seed, which cling to feet and vehicle tyres - it was taken to the New World for herbal use and became known to North American Native Peoples as "White Man's Footsteps" as it followed the new inhabitants where they settled. It persists for many seasons, forming a rosette close to the ground, so it avoids the sweep of mower blades. It is tolerant to trampling, surviving on paths and driveways.
The leaves contain flavonoids, tannins and astringent chemicals which, when crushed, make useful styptics for small cuts and an alternative to dock leaves for nettle stings. Lotions or ointments can be used to sooth itchy, chapped skin, insect bites and sore eyes. The early method of use was to chew the leaf and apply it to the damaged skin or insect bite - this could still be used in an emergency depending on the condition of the leaves. There are also internal medicinal uses where the expectorant effect and the mucilage content of the plant ease inflamed mucous membranes during bouts of coughs and bronchitis.
There is some evidence of antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and it is s diuretic.

The roots have a beneficial association with an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus which helps the plant to take up water and nutrients. The chopped up rootball can be used as a source of these fungi to help the establishment of other plants.

The flowers are tiny, borne in cylindrical spikes on an upright stalk, in summer. They are pollinated by the wind.
Height - up to 15 cm, usually remains squat.
Dig up using a hand fork or daisy grubber; the tenacious, fibrous roots do not regenerate provided the crown is removed.
Weedkillers to use:-
Glyphosate, systemic action killing the whole plant. A residual weedkiller will prevent germination on paths.
Treat with a selective weedkiller on the lawn, or a weed-and-feed preparation.

Nicholas Culpepper
(17th century astrologer-physician)
"The clarified juice drank for a few days helps excoriations or pains in the bowels, and distillations, of rheum from the head. It stays all manner of fluxes, even women's courses, when too abundant, and staunches the too free bleeding of wounds.
The seed is profitable against dropsey, falling-sickness, yellow jaundice and stoppings of the liver and reins. The juice, or distilled water, dropped into the eyes cools inflammation in them.
The juice mixed with Oil of Roses and the temples and forehead anointed with it, eases pains in the head proceeding from heat. it can also be profitably applied to all hot gouts in the hands and feet. It is also good to apply to bones out of joint, to hinder inflammations, swellings and pains that presently rise therupon.
The dried and powdered leaves taken in drink kills worms of the belly; boiled in wine, it kills worms which breed in old and foul ulcers. One part of the herb water and two parts of the brine of powdered beef, boiled together and clarified, is a remedy for all scabs and itch in the head and body, tetters, ringworms, shingles and running and fretting sores. All Plantains are good wound-herbs, for wounds and sores, internal and external."

Dropsey - watery swelling tissues of body cavities.
Flux - excess flow of any body secretion.
Reins - the kidneys, loins.
Rheum - watery or catarrhal discharge.
Tetters - a form of herpes, ringworm or eczema.

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