Originating in Europe, broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) is often found along roadsides and lawns and fields that have been disturbed by human intrusion. The plant likes to face towards the sun but can grow in areas with some shade during the day.
Today, the plant is found all over the world and is one of the most easily accessible medicinal herbs found, with anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.
How does the plant look like?
The plant is generally dark green in color and has leaves that are around 3-7 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. The leaves themselves are oval-shaped and can be as long as 30 cm at times. The flowers are quite small, and there are five to nine veins visible to the naked eye. With age, the flowers turn brown, and an acorn-like capsule develops below each flower. When the seed capsules attain maturity, they open up to reveal as many as 30 small ridged, brown seeds.
Germination begins every growing season when the soil temperature reaches 50 F. Flowering happens around 10-15 weeks after germination. A single plant can produce as many as 14,000 seeds in a single year and grows best in moist soil, though it can grow in wet and dry soils as well.
It is thought that the Plantago major was one of the first plants to reach North America after the European colonization. Interestingly, the plant was known by the name of ‘White Man’s footprint’ by the Native Americans because the plant seemed to survive in disturbed and damaged soil around European settlements.
This weed is also edible and can be used as salad leaves when young. When they grow old, they can be cooked in stews. It is high in vitamin A, and around 100 grams of the leaves have the same amount of vitamin A you would find in large carrot.
Broadleaf plantain can be a troublesome weed to deal with, and you sometimes see it make problematic weed top 10 lists. Year-round weed control with both pre and post-emergent herbicides that are applied regularly by a lawn care service or dedicated homeowner will groom this weed off of your lawn in time.