Narrowleaf Plantain (Plantago Lanceolata)

Plantago Lanceolata, from the Plantain family is also known as narrowleaf plantain, ribwort plantain, ribleaf, buckhorn plantain, buckhorn and lamb’s tongue.

Taxonomy

The plant is a rosette-forming perennial herb, with leafless, silky, hairy flower stems (10–40 cm or 3.9–15.7 in). The basal leaves are lanceolate spreading or erect, scarcely toothed with 3-5 strong parallel veins narrowed to short petiole. Grouping leaf stalk deeply furrowed, ending in an ovoid inflorescence of many small flowers each with a pointed bract. Each flower can produce up to two seeds. Flowers 4 mm (calyx green, corolla brownish), 4 bent back lobes with brown midribs, long white stamens.

Properties:

Ribwort plantain is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. The leaves contain mucilage, tannin and silic acid. An extract of them has antibacterial properties. They have a bitter flavour and are astringent, demulcent, mildly expectorant, haemostatic and ophthalmic.

Uses:

Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever. They are used externally in treating skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings, etc. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, swellings etc.
The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Marrubium vulgare.
The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.

A good fibre is obtained from the leaves, it is said to be suitable for textiles. A mucilage from the seed coats is used as a fabric stiffener. It is obtained by macerating the seed in hot water. Gold and brown dyes are obtained from the whole plant.

Edible parts:

Young leaves – raw or cooked. They are rather bitter and very tedious to prepare, the fibrous strands are best removed prior to eating. The very young leaves are somewhat better and are less fibrous.
Seeds – cooked. Used like sago. The seed can be ground into a powder and added to flours when making bread, cakes or whatever.


Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantago_lanceolata

http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Plantago+lanceolata

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