Botany: A perennial with broad oval or elliptical leaves in a rosette with 3-9 veins. Pale green and smooth. The flower stem is hairy and unfurrowed and may be 5-50 cm. The anthers are pale purple, becoming yellow/brown. Plantago lanceolata has similar actions although there is some dispute about which is more efficacious-Barker says that majoris better for skin, and lanceolata is better for the respiratory system. Also related to Plantagoovata, P. indica, P. afra used as a bulk laxative.
Parts used: Leaves; seed
Harvesting, cultivation and habitat: A common plant along roadsides, paths, in gardens, arable land and disturbed waste ground. Leaves are harvested during flowering from May to June is best. Seed harvested when ripe.
History and folklore: The leaves have been used as a survival food and the seeds have a similar action to psyllium to which it is related; one of Nine sacred herbs of the Druids (second after Mugwort) and one herbs of St. John’s Eve. The young emerging leaves of the rosette have a distinct mushroom flavour that is less marked but still present in the larger leaves. Known as the healng plant in Gaelic due to its’ use for bruises and wounds. Plantain syrup is still in the official pharmacopoeia in Russian medicine. Plantain contains allantoin, same as comfrey.