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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.

Leaves

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

Flowers

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

Stem

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

Habitat

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.

Taste

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

Frequency

Very common.

Collecting

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!

COMMENTS

12 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.
    https://thelawnman.co.uk/ribwort-plantain-plantago-lanceolata/
    Thank you.
    Kris Lord

    1. Tony Kemp says:

      Why do my guinea pigs love the seed heads ??
      Thanks

      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.
    Regards
    Mike

  5. Paul Carroll says:

    This plant is being studied in detail in Trinity College Dublin and there is an excellent interview about in on Mooney goes Wild available on the RTE player April 20th 2020 starting at minute 30 about, a fascinating plant indeed that I never even had a name for but have known since childhood.

    1. Donna makhsous says:

      Thank you. Going to look into this.

  6. William McCammon says:

    Is ribwort plantain dangerous to dogs when eaten as my dog has eaten it and was sick and had diarrhoea we have a lot of it in our meadow grass would like some advice please

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Plantains are apparently healthy for both humans and dogs and are ingredients in some herbal pet remedies.

  7. adrienne cartledge says:

    My tortoise (an 18 year old hermanns) goes crazy for this plant and its flowers – she has a whole diet of weeds and flowers . . . loved reading this

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