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Plantain, broad and narrow leaf – many uses including food and medicine

Broad leaf Plantain plant

Plantain, broad and narrow leaf (Plantago species)

Plantain plantPlantains come in two types – broad leaf and narrow leaf.  The broad leaf plantain has leaves over 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) across with parallel veins that are spread wider at the broad part of the leaf.  The plantain leaves grow in a cluster close to the ground. The flowers are on long spikes that rise from the middle of the cluster of leaves.

Plantain plantThe narrow leaf plantain has lance-shaped leaves up to 12 centimeters (5 inches) long and 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) wide, covered with hairs. The leaves are edged with small, lance-shaped edges. The flowers are small and inconspicuous.

Where to Find: Look for these plants in lawns and along roads in the north temperate zone. This plant is a common weed throughout much of the world and may be found in America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Europe.

Edible Parts: Plantain plantThe young tender leaves are edible raw. Older leaves are tough and should be cooked. Seeds are edible raw or roasted.

Other Uses: To relieve pain from wounds and sores, wash and soak the entire plant for a short time and apply it to the injured area. Some studies indicate plantain may act as a coagulant and can be applied to bleeding wounds (including snakebite wounds).

To treat diarrhea, drink tea made from 28 grams (1 ounce) of the plant leaves boiled in 0.5 liters of water. The seeds and seed husks act as laxatives.

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