Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Common Plantain

Here is the ubiquitous Common Plantain, Plantago major. This specimen grows on the edge of a field used for English riding shows. It's probably been hoofed and run over by trucks and horse trailers. It's tough stuff!

I found lots of interesting facts presented below on the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Leadership Program for Teachers web site.

Plantain’s common name comes from the Latin word planta, which means sole (as in sole of a shoe). Native Americans associated the plant with the Europeans, who seemed to leave a trail of the alien weed wherever they went, and called it “white man’s foot”.

Common plantain is in the same family as Plantago psyllium, the plant whose mucilaginous fiber is the active ingredient in Metamucil and other bulk fiber/laxative products.

In Gaelic, plantain is known as the “healing herb” because it was used in Ireland to treat wounds and bruises. Plantain was hailed by Pliny as a cure for the “madness of dogs”, and Erasmus claimed it to be an antidote for spider bite toxins. It was also said that if someone was bitten by a mad dog, rubbing plantain on the bite would heal it. Native Americans used it as an antidote to snakebite venom by rubbing its juices on the wound. It was listed as one of the nine sacred herbs in Anglo-Saxon medicine because of its healing powers. It was used as a cure for disorders of the kidney, a remedy for worms, a diuretic, and a cure for hemorrhoids, as well as a laxative.

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