Friday, June 3, 2011

Buckhorn Plantain: Kill It or Eat It?

Buckhorn plantain aka ribwort

To most Americans, buckhorn plantain is just another lawn weed to kill with the next application of Weed-n-Feed, but others stir-fry or boil its leaves for supper.

Since I don’t use 2,4-D on the vast expanses of our lawn, I have thousands of thriving specimens of buckhorn plantain (Plantago lanceolata), also called English plantain, narrowleaf plantain, ribgrass, ribwort, and blackjacks.

Perhaps when you were a kid you picked this plant’s long-stemmed flowerheads, bent the stem around itself, and tried to “shoot” the flowerheads at your buddies. I did. This green weapon always left much to be desired, and I can’t remember our battles lasting more than a few moments. I cannot recall anyone eating plantain leaves.

When you see the artwork of this plant in this week’s “Urban Jungle” column in the Washington Post, you’ll say, “Oh, that!” But do take a minute and read the information Patterson Clark has gathered about this common weed that probably arrived in North American with early colonists who brought it as an herbal remedy.

To read Patterson Clark’s feature, CLICK HERE.

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