Common Name: Greater Plantain
Scientific Name: Plantago major
Family: Plantagiinaceae (Plantains)
You probably have this plant in your lawn. It can also be found at the edges of paths and on wasteland where it prefers trodden places.
The round leaves have strong vein ribs on the underside and the longish leafstalk, while the short flower stalk bears tiny white flowers that quickly become edible green-brown seeds.
The whole plant is edible – the young leaves have a delicious earthy mushroom flavour and can be eaten raw in salads, the bigger leaves benefit from a little steaming or processing to pesto, while the seeds (a close relative of psyllium and equally rich in proteins, minerals and good fats) can be added to cereal.
This plant contains allantoin, like Comfrey, which makes it useful as a poultice for sprains and strains. It can also be bruised and applied to cuts (to stop bleeding and prevent infection) and insect bites / nettle stings (where its anti-histamine action comes in useful). Taken as a tea, it is helpful in reducing irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract, as well as treating sinusitis and glue ear.
Plantain and sorrel pesto (can also be used for other wild greens)
Gather about 1 litre of gently packed plantain and sorrel leaves, approximately half of each. Place in a food processor with 1-3 cloves of garlic, ½ cup ground almond or hazel nuts, 1 dessertspoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Start the processor running and slowly drizzle in 125-250ml of olive oil until the correct consistency is achieved and the leaves are in very small pieces. Add salt to taste. This pesto stores well in the fridge with a layer of oil covering the pesto.