Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)
Mostly perennial, heavy-rooted, acaulescent; lvs. thick, ascending, usually
roughish, with minute hairs, broadly elliptic to somewhat cordate-ovate, the
blades 5-15 cm. long, obtuse, with several conspicuous nerves converging at base
and apex; petioles winged, mostly shorter than and rather abruptly expanded into
blades; spikes linear-cylindric, dense, 0.5-4 (-7) dm. high, curved-ascending to
erect; bracts broadly ovate, scarious-margined, mostly shorter than calyx;
sepals 1.5-2 mm. long, broad, the anterior separate; corolla-lobes pointed, 0.5
mm. long; caps. broadly conic, brown or purplish, mostly 6-10 seeded; seeds
brown, reticulate, papillate, scarcely 1 mm. long.
Variable with a number of named forms.
Weed of damp waste places. April-Sept.
Plantago is from Latin meaning
"footprint" which is a curious coincidence with the American Indian
name. (see below). Latin, major,
larger. (Jaeger 148). Referring to the leaves.
Occasional in the study area. Photographed
along the Delhi Ditch. (my
seeds of P. major have been found in
the tombs of the Pharaohs. The
American Indians called it "White Man's Foot," since it appeared
shortly after every new incursion of Europeans.
Young leaves are tasty, boiled, or eaten fresh in salads. (Dale 152).
For wounds the whole plant is used, and the leaves are soaked a bit after
being washed and bound to the sore spot. For
internal use in diarrhea an infusion is made of an ounce of the plant to a pint
of boiling water, taken in wine glass doses.
Writers from our Southland and from Mexico suggest that an ointment made
from the leaves is good for sore eyes. (Coon
of P. major are good for wrapping other food.
The seeds are good to eat. (lecture
by Charlotte Clarke, author of Edible and
Useful Plants of California,
April 1987. Leaves
of P. major can be steeped and used for urinary troubles.
This same solution can be used to soothe burns.
(Fielder 37, 244).
Leaves of P. major when heated and applied to a thorn or splinter will help in
its extraction. To treat a
swelling, turn the top of the leaf toward the skin.
For skin inflammations, ulcers, intermittent feverish skin, or bleeding,
place the underside of the leaf on the skin.
P. major was supposed to
protect you from snakebite if you carried a piece of the root in your pocket,
but if you were bitten anyway you could make a tea of the plantain leaves to
cure the bite. Bee stings can be
soothed by heated plantain leaves applied over the wound.
The fresh juice can be almost miraculous in mild stomach ulcers; it can
be preserved with twenty-five percent vodka or ten percent grain alcohol, one
teaspoon in warm water one hour before every meal until pain ceases. (Medicinal Plants of
the Mountain West 129).
Plantain is a superior remedy for neuralgia--take 2-5 drops of the
tincture every 20 minutes; usually a
few drops will give relief. The green seeds and
stem boiled in milk will generally check diarrhea and bowel complaints of
children. (Hutchens 152).
Hickman, Ed. 821; Munz, Calif.
Flora 405; Munz, Flora So. Calif.
635; Roberts 32.
April-May 85 # 22,23.
Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.
Computer Ref: Plant Data 244.
Have plant specimen.
Last edit 3/23/03.