Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Plantain Flower
Plantain Flower


Our Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a close relative to Plantago major and just as useful. Some herbal books only talk about ‘major’, but for us, this one’s OK.

Plantain’s nature is cooling, softening, and moistening while being astringent. It’s the astringency that gives it one of its most common uses – it is used to help heal wounds such as cuts and scrapes. Just mash up some leaves and apply directly to minor wounds. It is this property that helps with rashes, stings and bites.

Plantain’s next property is that it can help draw out things that are not wanted, whether that be stings, splinters, or pus. It’s great then for pimples and boils. It’s soothing, moistening nature helps here by relieving the inflammation and irritation associated with them.

Like Chickweed, think of Plantain when you see redness associated with skin problems.

Plantain is a well respected remedy for chest problems, it’s soothing, cooling nature offers relief for inflamed membranes while it’s astringency helps tone them up and reduce the production of mucus. Plantain also acts as a mild expectorant.

Plantain is also useful in some kidney disorders, soothing inflammation and improving efficiency by nourishing the organs, rather than forcing them to work harder.


A patch of Plantain
Plantain {Plantago lanceloata)


Plantain leaves showing the ribs
The leaves are a dead giveaway. They’re slightly rough and have long veins or ribs. That’s how Plantain gets one of its many names – Ribwort. The leaves are long, ‘lanceolate’ in fact. That’s how it gets its species name ‘lanceolata’.


Rosette of Plantain leaves
The round arrangement of the leaves. This is called a ‘rosette’.



Buck's Horn Plantain (Plantago coronopus)
Buck’s Horn Plantain (Plantago coronopus) is another common Plantain down this way


Buck’s Horn Plantain (Plantago coronopus)is another very common Plantain around Gawler. I’ve tested its wound healing properties and they’re up there with the other Plantains mentioned. I don’t know about its ability to heal chest problems though. It has a slightly saltier taste than the other Plantains, so may be even better at drawing foreign objects from the skin and relieving swelling.