The Broadleaf Plantain or Greater Plantago (Plantago major) is a member of the plantago family, Plantaginaceae. In North America, this plant is primarily a weed, though it is edible and is used in herbal medicine. The plant is native to Europe, and is believed to be one of the first plants to naturalize in the American colonies.
== Description ==
Plantain grows from a short, tough rootstock or rhizome, which has a large number of long, straight, yellowish roots, is a basal, rosette of large, broadly oval, dark green, leaves. The 4 to 10 inch long smooth, thick, strong and fibrous leaves have 3 to 7 or more ribbed veins, abruptly contracting into a long, petiole (leaf stalk) which is reddish at the base. The leaf margin is of Plantain is entire, or unevenly toothed. The flower stalks, are erect, long, slender, densely-flowered spikes. Each tiny flower is brownish and bell-shaped with four stamens and purple anthers. Flowers bloom most of the summer. The fruit is a two-celled capsule and containing four to sixteen seeds. Harvest fresh young edible leaves in spring. Gather Plantain after flower spike forms, dry for later herb use.
== Ecology ==
This plant does best in compacted soils, and hence is sometimes called "roadweed". It propagates primarily by seeds, which are held on the long, narrow spikes which rise well above the foliage.
The Plant is commonly found on field boundaries as it is tolerant to pestcides and herbicides. It is wind-pollenated, and a cause of summer allergies when in flower.
== Uses ==
Some cultivars of this plant are used in gardens.
Crushed leaves can be applied directly to the skin to stop bleeding, bee stings and insect bites. Psyllium seeds are a bulk laxative.
The leaves are completely edible, but can be somewhat tough. The taste is that of very bitter salad greens with a lingering aftertaste like spinach. Young leaves are recommended as they are more tender. The leaves when dried make a good tea. The sinews from the broadleaf plantain are very pliable and tough when fresh and/or wettened, and can be used to make small cords or braiding. When dry the sinews harden but also become more brittle.
== Control ==
Mowing: Not effective, this is a lawn weed
Cultivation: Often difficult due the compacted soils it grows in
Pulling: Can be difficult to get the entire crown out
Flame: Quite effective, especially in lawns
Barriers: Fully effective
Grazing: Goats and rabbits provide good grazing
Nutritional controls: Lightening the soil can help
Disposal: Hot piles only if seeds are present
== References ==