Probably most everyone has seen this wild herb or "weed" growing in their yard, but never really knew what it was. We often call the most useful and healthy of plants, weeds. Plantain is all around us in our everyday lives even appearing up from cracks in concrete and asphalt. A lot of people step right over it not knowing it even exists, let alone know anything about its multiple uses including food and healing properties. Plantain has been used for its anti-inflammatory as well as naturally antibiotic properties. It is an herb and the formal name for this plant is Plantago Major. The two types that I am most familiar with are, Long Leaf Plantain and Broad Leaf Plantain.
There are a couple hundred other types as well and comes in many varieties, I am only familiar with the two that I mentioned and have personal experience with. They are very abundant in the Northern part of New York where we live. We do a great deal of our foraging in the mountains and meadows close to home. The taste of new leaves is quite good (however, a little bitter) as a salad green and or chew it up and put it on any sore, insect bite, burn, or other skin irritation for treatment and relief. The taste can be compared to a kind of spinach when cooked and the bitterness is calmed slightly. As with most wild plants, young leaves are the best.
It is also said that the leaves can be used for tea that will aid in digestion, heart burn, and ulcers.
The dried seeds of the plantain are said to be a form of natural laxative when consumed.
It is a pretty useful little plant for sure and so easy to find. Make sure that you don't harvest plants along side the road or any other places of contaminated soil. It is best to be about 100 yards off any public walkway or road when looking for a plant to consume. I use this as a rule for any wild edibles.
All in all, the Plantain ranks pretty high in our list of wild edibles because of it's versatility. There are so many forgotten resources available to us for just a little time and effort. Mother Nature provides everything that we need! As always, be 100% positive of any wild edible plants before you even attempt to eat them. Thank you for reading and enjoy the outdoors with someone you love!