That is a picture of Common Plantain that I snapped on a walk yesterday. Its Latin name is Plantago major. It is, like many useful herbs, considered an annoying weed, and it is EVERYWHERE lately. July must be the month for plantain in Colorado.
Incidentally, this plant has nothing to do with the plantain that looks like a banana and tastes yummy fried. The only thing the two have in common is the name, I’m afraid. You can eat this plant, but it is far more useful as a topical ointment.
Plantain is another plant that is great for novices, like myself, to collect, because it is easy to recognize and has no toxic imitators. The main give-away are those stalks that grow right out of the middle, even on the smallest specimens. Here is a botanical for a more scientific view:
Anyway, since it is quite literally everywhere, I grabbed a bunch of it. I’m going to use scissors and snip it into smaller, bite-sized pieces (after rinsing the dirt off and patting it dry with paper towels), and then use the fresh herb to make a solar-infused oil. Here, I’ll write a formal recipe:
Plantago major Solar-Infused Oil
1 pint-sized mason jar with lid
1 cup chopped, fresh common plantain leaves
1 pint extra virgin olive oil
1 window sill
1 crazy-hot summer in Colorado
Put the cup of chopped, fresh plantain into the pint-sized mason jar. Fill to the brim with extra virgin olive oil. Label it with the contents, today’s date (the “in” date) and a date 4 weeks from now (the “out” date). Place it on the window sill for four weeks during the crazy-hot summer in Colorado, and the sun will do the work for you extracting the medicinal constituents from the plantain leaves. Shake it a few times a week for four weeks. At the end of four weeks, strain the oil through some cheese cloth and it is ready to use.
But what do you use it for, you may ask? Well, the chlorogenic acid found in the leaves of P. major is a fantastic remedy for cuts, scrapes, insect bites, bee stings…all the bummers of summer, especially in little ones. (The Naturopathic Herbalist has a nice breakdown of all the medicinal properties of this plant, as well as its cousin, Plantago lanceolata.) In fact, you can simply mash up the leaves and put them on a bite/cut without the whole production of making an oil. But I want to make an oil because a) it is like alchemy and I feel wicked-cool doing it, and b) because I want to use the oil in a Calendula Salve I have plans for later this summer.
My oil is due to come out 8/9/16. When it is ready, I will try making the salve. Stay tuned!