"And thou waybroad (plantain)
Mother of worts
Open from eastward
Mighty within;
Over thee carts creaked
Over thee queens rode
Over thee brides bridalled
Over thee bulls breathed.
All these thou withstoodst
And with stound stayedst
As thou withstoodst
Venom and vile things
And all the loathly ones
That through the land rove."

Saxon MS. Herbal.

The plantain is said to have been once a maiden who, after constantly watching the roadway for her lover, was changed into this plant which still clings to the roadside. It has frequently been pointed out that wherever the English flag is carried the plantain in an incredibly short time makes its appearance, so it merits a place in the herb garden quite apart from its virtues.

From the days of our Saxon ancestors, who called it "way broade" (a much more appropriate name than plantain), it has always been highly valued. A tea made from its leaves is excellent, and both Chaucer and Shakespeare refer to its use for healing wounds. The young leaves were formerly used in salad, and the seeds, being very mucilaginous, are a good substitute for linseed.

Canaries are very fond of plantain seed.


One quart of boiling water poured on to two large handfuls of the young leaves and left to infuse
several hours.


Take Plantaine and stampe it well, and anoynt your feete with the juice thereof and the greefe will swage.

The Good Housewife's Handmaid, 1588.

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