Wild Plantain – a Common, but Useful, Backyard Weed

Wild Plantain – a Common, but Useful, Backyard Weed

The wild plantain is a very common weed, found in most yards in North America. There are three species of plantain found in Minnesota: broadleaf plantain (Plantago major), blackseed plantain (Plantago rugelii), and buckhorn plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Blackseed plantain is the only one of the three that is native to Minnesota. It looks very similar to broadleaf plantain, which is the most common species, but you can tell them apart by pulling the plant out of the ground. Blackseed plantains have a purple tinge at the base of their petioles.

Blackseed Plantain

 

 

Plantains are a low, short plant with wide, round leaves that have parallel veins.  Plantains grow well in compacted soil, and can be found in dry soils, lawns, fields, and roadsides. We have them in our own Minnesota backyard, and I’ve even seen it along trails and at campsites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

In addition to being easy to recognize, wild plantains have an abundance of uses. The leaves can be used for pain relief; chew them up and put the mush directly on a bee or insect sting, or crush them and put them on a rash or wound.

Wild plantains are edible, and can be used in salads, as a potherb, and as tea. The tea is mild tasting, high in vitamins A and C, and useful as a remedy for diarrhea, and relieving a cough. Young leaves are a good addition to salads, or blanched and sautéed with butter and garlic.

Related articles:

Wild Edibles: Wild Plantain Tea

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5 Comments

  1. Rrandy
    Sep 26, 2012

    I’ve seen these in my yard.
     

    • carolyn
      Sep 26, 2012

      If they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or anything nasty, you can eat them!

    • wildernesswypt
      Sep 26, 2012

       @Rrandy If you want to eat them, grab the small tender ones! The larger ones get very tough and stringy (I’ve tried them).

    • Anita
      May 22, 2015

      Blanch wild plantain, then saute in oil with red pepper flakes and garlic. It tastes like an artichoke.

  2. Rrandy
    Sep 27, 2012

    I’ll add them to salad.

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