nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Common Plantain

Common Plantain (Plantago major L.)

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When we were children, we often pretended to be storekeepers and picked various wild plants as the ‘food’ for sale.  We collected weed seeds for our ‘wheat’, clover-heads as ‘ice-cream’, vetch seed pods as ‘peas’, and (gasp) Common Nightshade berries as ‘tomatoes’.

This is probably a good place to urge you to teach your children – everything that looks like a vegetable or fruit may not be good for them to eat!  I don’t remember ever trying any of our pretend ‘groceries’, but some of them, such as the Common Nightshade berries, were poisonous and harmful.

berries of Common Nightshade are poisonous… later in the season, they are red and quite beautiful… children should be warned that all red berries are NOT good to eat

We also ‘sold’ the leaves of Common Plantain at our ‘store’.  They looked like spinach, and the Plantain leaves would have actually been fine for us to eat.

Common Plantain (Plantago major L.) is a very easily found weed since it grows almost everywhere, especially along roadsides, in dooryards and in other waste places.  Plantain is also known as Ribwort, Broad-leaved Plantain, Whiteman’s Foot, or, in French, queue de rat.  The generic name comes from the Latin word planta meaning ‘foot’.  Major means ‘larger’.

Plantain has thick, dark green, oval leaves.  These grow near the ground in a basal rosette.  The stems of the leaves are long and trough-like.  The leaves themselves are variously hairy and feel rough to the touch.  The leaf has large, prominent veins, and, as the plant grows older, these veins become very stringy.  The veins resist the breakage of the leaf and stick out from the stem end of a harvested leaf like the strings of celery.

Flowers of Plantain grow in a dense spike on a long, slender stalk rising from the leaves.  The flowers are small and greenish-white, appearing from June to August.

The young leaves of Common Plantain can be used in a salad or cooked and seasoned with salt and butter.  The older leaves become tough and stringy.

Warning:
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

leaves of Common Plantain and Dandelion, picked from our dooryard, not yet washed or looked over for insects… note the strings protruding from the stem ends

Yesterday, I gathered the youngest leaves of plantain I could find and cooked them for my lunch.  They might be fine in times of need, but I found the cooked product to be just like eating soggy cardboard.

I should say, since I have begun my almost daily tests of edible wild plants, my husband asks me almost hourly how I am feeling.

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wisdom

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plantain, past the picking –

a pulled leaf resists,

tethered to a thread

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©  Jane Tims  2012

Warning:
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

Written by jane tims

June 13, 2012 at 7:21 am

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