Plantain – A Nourishing Wild Edible For First Aid And Beauty
Plantain is a wild plant well worth knowing. You can eat it, juice it, make healing salves and use it as a first aid remedy in the field. There are 2 common varieties, broad leaf plantain (round, wide leaves) and the narrow leaf ribwort plantain (long, narrow leaves) and not to be confused with a type of banana! The broad leaf one is milder and great for making wraps and salads, the narrow one is more potent and better for medicinal purposes.
The leaves, stems, shoots, flowers and seeds are all edible. It is slightly astringent, with a hint of bitterness. The flavour can be described as similar to dark collard greens. Tender young leaves can be used as salad greens. Buds and flowers can be marinated, stir-fried or used as creatively as you like. The leaves work really well in green juices.
Plantain provides beta-carotene and calcium. Plantain juice and poultices can treat blood poisoning, stings, burns, bites, abscesses and infections. Plantain has the ability to eliminate toxins through the skin. You can apply plantain paste (by either chewing or blending the plant) topically onto the skin to treat rashes, bug bites, cuts and bruises. Next time you get stung by a bee, chew some plantain, apply it to the skin, and you will get instant relief.
You can identify plantain by the tall, upright seedpod, which contains thousands of seeds (this is where psyllium husk comes from). Also by the straight parallel veins on the underside of the leaf, if you tear the leaf you will expose fibrous threads in these veins.
Plantain can also be used to treat skin conditions, tightens the skin and even reverses wrinkles. You can use it by making infused oils, salves and masks.
Find more first aid and beauty plantain recipes here:
Sergei’s Plantain Skin Smoothie
- 1-2 cups freshly picked plantain leaves
- ¼ of an avocado
- ½ cup water
Blend all the ingredients together and apply. Allow to dry, then rinse off.
Sergei’s Plantain Cocktail
- 1-2 cups fresh plantain leaves
- 3 apples, chopped
- ½ lime with peel
- 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
Juice everything. Add ice cubes before serving and decorate with edible flowers.
You can read more on plantain from Sergei here:
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The information in this article was compiled from Sergei Boutenko’s Wild Edibles book.
Sergei Boutenko is the creator and tutor for the Wild Edibles program.