Common Plantain (Plantago major)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Leaves: Evergreen
Flower Color: Green
Other: Green
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Late summer or early fall
Uses: Medicinal Herb
Will Naturalize
Dynamic Accumulator: Ca (Calcium)
Mg (Magnesium)
S (Sulfur)
Fe (Iron)
Mn (Manganese)
Si (Silicon)
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Pollinators: Wind

photo credit: Frank Vincentz

Let 'em Grow: PlantainLet 'em Grow: Plantain
By Sharon on August 3, 2012

This is one in a series of very short articles that might change your mind about some surprisingly good weeds. And even if your mind isn't changed, you'll still be well informed.

(Full article46 comments)
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Posted by Chillybean (Iowa - Zone 5a) on Sep 2, 2015 11:48 AM

This plant is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but has readily naturalized in other areas. This US non-native is one I have come to appreciate. A visitor once pointed out how good this plant is medicinally. I will still yank them out of places I do not want them, but in areas like the lawn, I just leave them alone.

When the growth is fairly new, I use it in my homegrown salads along with garden lettuce, chickweed, and lamb's quarter. I also collect and dry the nicer leaves before the plants develop their flowers. I use this to wrap around cuts and burns as this helps with the pain after simmering in water.

In a pinch, I've taken a fresh leaf, smashed it to bruise it a little, and had a child wrap it around his finger where he had a minor cut. He went from tears to no pain in a matter of minutes. Maybe it was more of a placebo effect, but I had a happy boy. When the wounds are more extensive, I do not rely on the plantain only. They are first cleaned out and the bleeding is stopped. We strive for natural means, yet if something is beyond our means, we will go to a doctor. We are blessed to not have to do this often.

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Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Apr 16, 2012 7:19 AM

Honey bees get pollen from this plant.

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Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on Apr 30, 2016 4:55 PM

This is a European species very similar to the native eastern North American Blackseed plantain (Plantago rugelii) . According to Minnesota Wildflowers, the native can be distinguished from the European species by purple bases to the leaf stalks and by more elongated seed pods. Illinois Wildflowers mentions that the seed pods on the native species split open at the bottom, while the seed pods on the European species split open in the middle. The leaves (both leaf stems and blade) on the native are sometimes longer, up to 14 inches instead of 11 inches, but that's rare when the plants are growing in a regularly mown lawn.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Invasive plant need identification to control it by jpash Oct 29, 2020 6:44 PM 7
Plant Trivia by JHeirloomSeeds Apr 12, 2019 8:08 AM 401
Miniature plant ID by starbookworm Jul 27, 2018 3:53 PM 1
Should I remove this? -- Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) by starbookworm Jul 10, 2018 12:57 PM 3
is this a tobacco plant? by lovetogarden Jun 30, 2016 10:39 PM 8
Another mislabeled plant. by HamiltonSquare May 19, 2016 10:40 AM 6
is this plantain? by Toni Mar 21, 2016 1:21 PM 10
Does anyone recognize this one? by Gerris2 Jul 28, 2015 8:42 PM 9
American Burnweed (Erechtites hieraciifolius) by Catmint20906 Jul 18, 2015 7:33 AM 6
English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) by frankrichards16 Jul 1, 2015 6:04 AM 4

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