“White Man’s Footprint” is another name for this plant, because it is so common. (It followed the path of the anglo-saxon pioneers around the globe.)
This plant is almost everywhere. That is one reason I start with it and like it so much – it is abundant. It is also easy to identify and is very useful. It is mild enough to be a medicine and a food. I frequently eat it. I munch on it, when I am out in the yard. I pick it for salads. I seek it out, when my tummy is upset.
Plantain is used for many purposes. The most commonly known is a poultice for insect stings. It is readily found and can be chewed up and smooshed onto the skin,where it will stay for a short while and soothe the sting. It is a fun plant for kids to learn and is very useful for pet owners outside with their dogs.
Plantain is astringent, which means it draws excess fluid out of tissues (decreases inflammation) and “tightens” the cells up. That property is very useful for an inflammed gi tract and leaky gut syndrome. It can be eaten, made into a tea, or tinctured. The fresh is always the best, but it must be finely chopped, macerated, or pureed.
The hulls of the seeds of plantain are commercially grown to make psyllium, aka Metamucil. They are insoluble fiber that can help with bowel regularity.
This plant is very nutritious and is very edible. I encourage its use in salads and in your pet’s food. Cat’s only get less than 5% plant matter in their diet. Dog’s can get up to 30%. Plantain can be harvested in abundance in many locations. I like to throw it in the blender or food processor, then add it right into my dog’s diet. It can be mixed into homemade or the blender “soup” can be added to dry kibble to soak, in order to improve the nutrient and water level.
Take it a step further and ferment the blended plantain “soup” with or without other veggies to radically improve your pet’s nutrition. See my blog on fermenting foods for dogs and cats for more information.
Enjoy this plant and try to eat (and feed to your pet) wild foods every day! They may radically improve nutrition and offer nutrients that simply are not found in cultivated plants.
Please see an identification guide for assistance in positively identifying this plant.