Greater Plantain (Plantago major)

Greater Plantain (Plantago major) is a species of plant in the family Plantaginaceae, native to northern and central Asia and also most of Europe. It is also known as Common Plantain and Soldier's Herb. The genus Plantago is derived from Latin word meaning 'sole of the foot'.

Greater Plantain is a herbaceous perennial plant, which dies to the ground each winter and sprout anew from its fibrous taproot around mid-spring. Greater Plantain has a rosette of leaves, 15-30 cm in diameter. The leaves are oval, 5-20 cm long and 4-9 cm wide, with 5-9 conspicuous veins, an acute tip and a smooth margin. Between early summer and late autumn, leafless flower stalk, 15-45 cm tall, arises from the center of the rosette, bearing cluster of small greenish-white flowers. Each flower will become a small capsule-like seedpod containing 10-20 seeds. The seedpod matures and splits in half, releasing the seeds to the ground.

The young leaves are edible and can be added to salads, or cooked as leaf vegetable. Immature flower stalks can be picked and eaten raw or cooked. Older leaves are stringy and strongly flavored, and are more suitable for making stock or tea. Greater Plantain is high in Vitamin A and C, and calcium.

Greater Plantain is easily found in garden and lawns, beside paths, roadsides, along trails, and in sidewalk cracks. It prefers full sun and rich moist soil, but will grow in partial shade, and poor, dry soil. Propagation is by seeds.

Greater Plantain (Plantago major)Greater Plantain (Plantago major)
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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