Plantago major. N.O. Plantaginaceae.
Synonym ► Also called Ripple Grass and Way bread, the herb is known in Scotland as “Soldiers,” and in America and New Zealand as “Englishman’s Foot”—Plantain being supposed always to follow in his footsteps.
Habitat ► Spreads in meadows, along the borders of fields, and in the hedgerows.
Features ► Springing from the root, the large leaves are ovate, blunt, and contract abruptly at the base. When, however, the plant is found in open fields the leaves tend to grow upwards on channelled stalks. The very small, brownish-purple flowers grow close together on a spike about five inches long. The plant is astringent to the taste, and odourless.
Part used ► The leaves are used medicinally. Action ► Alterative and diuretic.
Combined with other agents, they are of some value in piles and diarrhea. The fresh juice will give relief from insect and nettle stings.
John Skelton writes that Plantain “makes one of the best ointments for piles I know of.”