Species: Greater Plantain (Plantago major)

Family: Plantains (PLANTAGINACEAE)

Category: Flowering Plants

Location: NW

A. Flowering Plants

More extensive information on flowering plants can be found in a separate blog post.


Many members have flat leaves that seem to lay on the ground, hence the derivation of the name from the Latin 'planta', sole of the foot. The flowers are on long, leafless stalks. The best known plantain is the banana.

C. Greater Plantain (Plantago major)

The pale greenish-yellow and brown flowers from June sit above the broad oval leaves of this common native plant. Mashed plantain leaves are effective for burns, cuts (they stem blood flow), haemorrhoids, insect bites and stings, and sunburn. Plantain tea is taken for bronchitis, relieves sore throats and the symptoms of colds and flu, and also kidney and bowel disorders. Pick the stamens off a flower, make a wish, and keep the remainder of the flower under the pillow overnight. If new stamens develop the wish will come true. A game like conkers was played with the seed heads. Each picks one with a long stem and takes it in turns to strike the other, to try and knock the seed head off. Also, tie the seed head in a knot and flick it to see whose seed head travels furthest. Plantains are called 'mother-die', as this is what happens when they are taken indoors.


Greater Plantain

Greater Plantain have rounder leaves than the Ribwort Plantain's elongated ones. Here, the plant is yet to produce its short stalks.