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Plantago major - L.

Common Name Common Plantain, Cart Track Plant,White Man's Foot ,Plantain
Family Plantaginaceae
USDA hardiness 3-12
Known Hazards High doses may cause a fall in blood pressure and diarrhoea. Possible allergic contact dermatitis. Avoid in patients with intestinal obstruction or abdominal discomfort [301].
Habitats A common garden weed, particularly in lawns[1, 4, 13]. Rarely in grassy places[17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, to northern and central Asia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Plantago major Common Plantain, Cart Track Plant,White Man

Plantago major Common Plantain, Cart Track Plant,White Man


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Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Irregular or sprawling.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Plantago major is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plantago borysthenica. Plantago dregeana. Plantago latifolia. Plantago sinuata.

Plant Habitats

 Lawn; Meadow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Seed
Edible Uses: Tea

Young leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 12, 56, 62, 183]. They are rather bitter and tedious to prepare because the fibrous strands need to be removed before use[9]. It is best not to use the leaf-stalk since this is even more fibrous than the leaf[183]. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water before using them in salads in order to make them more tender[183]. A Chinese form has more palatable leaves - it contains about 2.7% protein, 0.4% fat, 2.2% ash[179]. Seed - raw or cooked[62, 172]. Very tedious to harvest[172]. The seed can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour[183]. It is very rich in vitamin B1[179]. The whole seeds can be boiled and used like sago[193]. The dried leaves make an acceptable tea[183]. Root[183]. No further details.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidote  Astringent  Demulcent  Deobstruent  Depurative  Diuretic  Expectorant  Haemostatic  
Laxative  Ophthalmic  Poultice  Refrigerant  Vermifuge

Common plantain is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue[254]. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic and refrigerant[4, 7, 9, 21, 147, 165, 172, 238]. Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever[238, 254]. They are used externally in treating skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings etc[4]. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, swellings etc[213, 222]. The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Marrubium vulgare[207]. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms[213]. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes[238]. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds[238]. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion[7].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Some named forms have been selected for their ornamental value[233]. An important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies[30]. Special Features: Edible, Naturalizing, Suitable for dried flowers. Dynamic accumulator.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. Although this species is a common garden weed, some named forms have been selected for their ornamental value[233].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. A sowing can be made outdoors in situ in mid to late spring if you have enough seeds.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Common Plantain, Cart Track Plant, White Man's Foot Plantain, Plantain, Rat's Tails, Travellers Foot, Waybread, Cuckoo's Bread, Bolila ba lipoli, Broad-leafed plantain, Che qian, Cheuli, Daun sejumbok, Daun sendok, Ekur anjing, Ghuzbe, Gul, Isafghol, Karet, Kel-ba-an, Ki arut, Kopakopa, Llanten, Luhuriya, Ma de, Nido marto, Orecchie d'asino, Plantain, Pulung nyang, Sangka-buwah, Sangkubah, Teeleht, Tirafilo, Yempat, al-hamal al-kabeer, al-hazaza , bakayaprok, baltang, bartang, bokvica, breitwegerich, broad plantain, broad- plantain, broad-leaf plantain, broad-leaved plantain, broadleaf plantain, buckhorn plantain, buzchi, cart-track plant, charghoon, che qian cuo, chon baka zhalbyrak, common plantain, da che qian, folia plantaginis majoris, general plantain, grand plantain, great plantain, greater plantain, groblad, gros plantain, gula, khargholah, lahuriya, lantana-maior, large plantain, lisan abu al-a’meel, lisan al-hamal, llanten, llantén, llantén común, llantén major, llsan-ui-hamal, masasah, piantaggine, plantago major, plantain, plantain grand, plantain majeur, podorozhnik bol'shoy, podorožnik bol'šoj, ripple grass, rippleseed plantain, tanchagem, tanchagem-maior, warak saboun lisan al-kalb, waybread, wegerich, white-man's-foot, zanbul far, zanbul yarbooa, zupturoom, ženska bokvica.

Africa, Asia, Australia, Balkans, Bosnia, Britain, Burma, Canada, Central America, China, Cuba, Denmark, East Africa, Ecuador, Estonia, Europe, France, Greece, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Italy, Haiti, Laos, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mediterranean, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, South Africa, Southern Africa, St Lucia, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Tasmania, Tonga, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, West Indies, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Giles Oatley   Tue Jun 12 2007

I've searched everywhere on the internet, and cannot find one garden centre etc that supplies Plantago major. The best I have found are leaves from a US site. Can someone help me to get the plant please. Thanks, Giles

bobise   Tue May 6 2008

You will probably never find a plantain for sale. They are weeds, esp where I live, and grow every where. Just try to find one growing wild and transplant it, it should be easy if you live in north america. The broadleaf variety I usually find is hardy to zone two. I sometimes call them toe whackers, because when you walk barefoot through an unkept lawn, you can feel the stalks whack your toes.

Sylvie   Thu Jun 12 2008

Giles, I read your request today. I hope you still come on this site. You can get the seeds from www.Richters,com. It is located in Ontario, Canada. They ship to many places. Hope this help. Sylvie

david n   Tue Dec 30 2008

I find the large mature leave are fine for wrapping food in like grape leaves. I boil them for a while, and probably do make an unconcious effort to bite hard to sever the fibers.

giunar   Wed Dec 9 2009

we are searching the economic and environmental significance of this plantago majora .. so pls help me to find the best answer for this question ... i need it for my reasearch paper ,,, thank u more power fin

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