Most people have seen this herb growing in cracks in the sidewalk or marring the monoculture of an otherwise pristine lawn. Before you pluck it out and toss it away, consider that broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) is a nutritious edible plant and a potent medicinal herb.
Plantain (especially the young, tender leaves) can be used like any green leafy, added to salads and sandwiches fresh, or older leaves cooked like greens. It contains vitamins A, C, & K and the mineral magnesium.
Medicinally, plantain is used to soothe irritated skin and can help heal rashes from poison ivy, heat, ease the pain of sunburn and other burns, and help quell the pain of insect bites and stings. Containing allantoin like comfrey and aucubin, an antimicrobial, its anti-inflammatory properties are used to ease the pain and speed healing of sprains, sore muscles, and swelling.
Spring and early summer is a good time to find fresh plantain. I pulled up some of the plantain from my untreated lawn, roots and all (or you can use just the leaves), washed them:
Chopped them and put them in a lidded jar:
I used a food processor but a knife or scissors works just as well. And covered them with warmed olive oil and left them in a window to infuse:
After about two weeks I strained out the solids using a fine sieve.
You can use the oil ‘as is’ or use it as the base for a salve for summer’s bites, rashes, and sore muscles. I prefer the salve because it’s less drippy and easier to apply, plus you get the benefits of the beeswax used to thicken the oil. Recipe for my favorite plantain oil salve here.