Monday, June 16, 2014

Wild Edibles #4 Broadleaf Plantain




Disclaimer: Some wild plants are not only edible but delicious. Other wild plants will kill you if you eat them. Be absolutely certain what a plant is before you eat it. Plant varieties differ from region to region. When in doubt, consult a local expert.

If I could know about only one wild edible and medicinal plant this one would probably be the one you would choose to know. It has many uses and is great for so many things.

I have known about Broadleaf Plantain for a very long time. My dad introduced me to the plant when I was a young child, but not for eating purposes. I had been stung by a wasp, my dad pulled a leaf, crushed it and placed it on the sting. The pain went away and there was no swelling. Later I got a cut that was bothering me. I tried this plant and guess what? It worked on the cut as well. 

It wasn't til much later that I realized you could eat this plant as well, and let me tell you Broadleaf Plantain is a powerhouse of a food and a medicine. This plant is native to Europe and most of North and Central Asia. It has been widely dispersed throughout the entire world. 

Broadleaf Plantain would be considered a small plant typically not reaching over 8 or 9 inches in height. It has wide leaves that grow from a central root. The leaves are a medium green. The veins of the leave run in a fan like pattern from the base. A stem rises up out of the center which holds the seeds in an almost wheat like fashion. I have never seen anything else that looks close.

Photo bomb by Mittens
As Food
When it comes to eating Broadleaf Plantain it is a nutritional powerhouse. Supplying vitamins A, C, and K not to mention several minerals, iron being one of the primary. Every part of this plant is edible. The leaves taste best when young and tender. As the leaves age they tend to get a little bitter, but not too bad. Best time to harvest is early spring or when new shoots appear after mowing. Dried leaves can be used to make an herbal tea. Even the seeds are edible.This little plant is so widely heralded by foragers that there are even a fairly wide range of recipes for broadleaf plantain. 

As Medicine

Remember at the beginning when I said that I knew this plant for years as the sting plant? Oh it is so much more! This plant has anti-microbial properties "stops nasties from growing and causing infection". Plantain stimulates tissue growth;"things will heal much faster". Also,Plantain reduces pain and discomfort; "actually has a little pain re-leaving properties". You can crush, chew, or make a poultice out of the leaves to unleash all of the above mentioned properties. Tea made from the dried leaves actually helps relieve diarrhea. Talk about a multipurpose plant! 

Here is the kicker. Broadleaf plantain is most likely in your yard right now. Nearly all of the weed and feed products try to kill this beneficial little plant. Show plantain some love and let it grow. If you do it will be there when you need it. Below is the YouTube video on the same plant. 


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Other Posts in this Series: #1 Wood Sorrel#2 Wild Strawberry and WoodberryWild Edibles #3 Dove's Foot Geranium

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