Plantain: wonderful or weed?

The other day, while rescuing a portion of my garlic bed from weeds that were threatening to over take it, I realized that some of the “weeds” that I was discarding were in fact valuable plants. Remember the definition weed  from Merriam Webster.

1weed  n \ˈwēd\

Definition of WEED

a (1) :  a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially :  one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants

This does not say that that the plant has no value, just that it is growing in the wrong place.

So, while pulling “weeds” from the garlic bed I realized that I was pulling out a lot of plantain and throwing it aside. I decided to stop right there, work ahead and pull the plantain and save it. Then I went back and pulled the rest of the weeds.

Plantain, Latin name:  Plantago Major, is one of the valuable plants that most people see as a nuisance and is not given the respect it deserves. It has multiple health benefits, but if you like the nice manicured lawn look you are probably poisoning it with herbicides. This link will show you what it looks like and describe some of it’s uses.

A few years ago when I started studying the benefits of different wild plants and herbs I learned about using crushed plantain leaves on a bee sting to stop the pain. So for the past few years whenever I, or someone I was with, got stung by a bee I would grab some plantain leaves (they grow almost everywhere) and crush them up so some of the juice was coming out, then rub it on the bee sting. Almost instantly the pain would stop, and in most cases the pain did not return. As a bee keeper this is very valuable information to have.

This year I decided to try to incorporate this in my products by making it into a balm. So I infused some olive oil with plantain leaves and am currently testing my Bug Bite Balm before I actually have it for sale.

This most recent bunch of plantain leaves, that I harvested from my garlic bed, is being infused in alcohol to make a medicinal tincture, so that we might take advantage of some of plantain’s other health benefits. (it’s not legal for me to sell this, so you will have to make your own). Next I will pick some to dehydrate so that I can make plantain tea as well.

If you visit our farm you might notice the spot in one of our gardens where my husband decided to transplant this important plant, so while it might be a weed when it is coming up in my garlic bed, it is certainly a wonderful, respected plant in it’s own little garden spot.

Although, I pat myself on the back for saving those valuable “weeds”, I am also feeling a little guilty that I did not save the dandelion leaves for my salad.

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