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Ribwort Plantain

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

The flower heads taste surprisingly like mushroom and can also be used by school children as ‘pop’ guns.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Ribwort Plantain, Narrow Leaf Plantain
Scientific Name Plantago lanceolata
Season Start Mar
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The leaves are long, narrow, lanceolate shaped and have veins (ribs) running parallel from the base of the leaf to the pointed top.


The flowers grow from a stubby brown inflorescence on a leafless flower stalk and are tiny and white and can be found throughout Summer.


The flower stem is square in profile and can be quite hairy.


Fields, lawns, meadows, roadsides, waste ground, parks and even sand dunes. It is a very hardy plant and can usually be found in any environment with soil.

Possible Confusion

Can look a little like Hoary Plantain, Plantago media but this has downy/hairy leaves and is edible.


The leaves, like Common Plantain, are too bitter, even when young but the ‘bud’ on the flower stem tastes suprisingly like mushroom.


Very common.


The leaves can be collected at any time for medicinal use, the flower ‘buds’, if being used to make a mushroom stock, need to be collected after they have turned brown but before they get really dry.

Medicinal Uses

Ribwort Plantain seems to be a very versatile addition to the medicine cabinet being an antihistamine, antifungal, antioxidant, analgesic and even a mild antibiotic. Used as an antihistamine, Ribwort Plantain is very effective at dealing with nettle stings or insect bites/stings unlike Dock which is just a placebo but if your children get stung and you can’t find any Plantain, placebos work.
The leaves can also be used to make a tea that acts as an effective cough medicine.
The roots apparantly make an effective treatment for rattlesnake bites!


7 comments for Ribwort Plantain

  1. Kris Lord says:

    Thank you for the useful information on Ribwort plantain. I have used your page a reference for my own study on the common plant.
    Thank you.
    Kris Lord

    1. Tony Kemp says:

      Why do my guinea pigs love the seed heads ??

      1. Eric Biggane says:

        Most animals know what is good for them and Plantain is full of healthy vitamins and minerals.

  2. Doreen says:

    My dog has eaten all the plantain i my garden. Why would she do this

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Doreen, Plantain is a very healthy plant containing vitamins and minerals so your dog is just eating well or maybe she just likes the flavour.

  3. Brian Hunter says:

    This info was by helpful. Thank you so much.

  4. Mike Sparrow says:

    I am extremely interested in the natural world but my knowledge of wild flowers and herbs is very limited. Thank you for the extremely useful information.

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