Plantago major

Broadleaf Plantain

Botanical description: Plantago major is one of the early species to have naturalized in North America from the old world, spreading along with human movement on the new continent. Broadleaf plantain is quite common in urban areas where it thrives in sunny, moist and fertile places as well as on dry sites, along compacted pathways, open park lawns, and drainage ditches. The leaves form basal rosettes and can easily be identified by its parallel venation, unusual for a plant that is not a grass. Its attractive, rounded leaves shade the ground in the immediate vicinity of the plant, discouraging the growth of competitors, and enabling it to form small colonies. Flower stalks are slender, blunt spikes of a light green color from three to twelve inches tall and are wind pollinated. Broadleaf plantain is known as a highly nutritious wild edible plant, rich in protein, beta carotene and calcium. The young leaves are edible raw or cooked and can be added to salads. Dried leaves make a herbal tea. Not just consumed by humans, it is also an important food source for wildlife such as butterflies and caterpillars. Plantago major also has many medicinal uses, possessing compounds that fight infection, stimulate cell growth and facilitate healing of wounds.