Another “annoying weed”, plantain (not to be confused with the little starchy cooking banannas) can be eaten young as salad greens, taken as a tea or infusion, or cooked like spinach. Make sure to get young leaves as the more mature they are, the stringier they become. The seeds can be ground for flour.
Plantain is very high in beta carotene (A) and calcium. It also provides ascorbic acid©, and vitamin K.
There are two types of plantain most commonly found in the US: Plantago Major, which has fat, rounded leaves and Plantago lanceolata, which has longer, spear-shaped leaves. They can be harvested from early spring to first frost. They will grow anywhere but please, if you decide to use them, don’t harvest them from near the road- they’ll be full of chemicals from car exhaust and runoff from the road.
Plantain helps relieve skin and scalp irritations, reduce inflammation heal minor injuries. Plantain oil is well tolerated by any type of skin and traditionally was utilized as a restorative and anti-aging skin remedy. It was used to nourish and treat sensitive, irritated skin and scalp, help restore injured or tired skin and for daily revitalizing treatment. Plantain oil is also believed to be helpful in the treatment of conditions of mucous membranes.
Plantain infusion (tea) can also be used as a soothing wash for sunburn, windburn, rashes, or wounds.
Plantain has mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions. The German Commission E officially recommends using 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (1-3 grams) of the leaf daily in the form of tea made by steeping the herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water for 10-15 minutes (making three cups (750 ml ) per day). The fresh leaves can be applied directly three or four times per day to minor injuries, dermatitis, and insect stings. Syrups or tinctures, approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2-3 ml) three times per day, can also be used, particularly to treat a cough. Finally, 1/2-1 1/4 teaspoons (2-6 grams) of the fresh plant can be juiced and taken in three evenly divided oral administrations throughout the day.
Resources: Susun Weed’s Wisewoman forum and Prarieland Herbs’ article on Plantain7 years ago