Plantago major

Plantago major


Plantago means “footprint” and it refers to the foot-like shape of the leaf. The specific name “major” means ‘larger’ referring to the leaf size, probably in contrast with other Plantago plants as Plantago lanceolata.

Also Known as

  • greater plantain
  • common plantain
  • soldier’s herb
  • white man’s foot
  • broadleaf plantain
  • broad-leaved plantain
  • roadweed
  • wayside plantain
  • lamb’s foot
  • snakeroot
  • waybread
  • healing blade
  • hen plant

Identification Keys

  • perennial weed
  • makes a tough, leafy rosette
  • leaves all in tuft at base of plant
  • leaves 10-30 cm, oval
  • leaves not spear-shaped
  • strongly veined leaves, main veins are parallel
  • pencil-shaped flowering spikes about 15 cm
  • short, flattened, purple leaf stalk
  • flowers 2-3 mm
  • 4 oval, brownish, papery sepals
  • sepals are shorter than petals
  • 4 greenish, yellowish-white petals
  • petals form a tube beneath oval lobes
  • 4 long, protruding stamens, 1 stigma
  • flower-head not covered by hood
  • fruit is a 2-4 mm oblong capsule
  • fruit has 6-13 elliptical flattened seeds
  • each seed is 1-1.5mm
  • the top of the fruit detaches to release the seeds
  • sap is not milky

Bloom Time

  • May-September


  • grassy place, cultivated or waste ground
  • spreads through most temperate regions of the world
  • requires moist soil
  • needs a sunny or partly shaded position
  • can withstand temperatures down to -15°C


It can be confused with other Plantago plants:

  • Plantago lanceolata (long-leaf plantain). It has narrower leaves.

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

leaf, seed


astringent, alterative, diuretic, vulnerary, demulcent, refrigerant, detoxifying, decongestant, expectorant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral



  • counters inflammation and irritation in the bowels and stomach
  • helps in gastritis, diarrhea and colitis
  • reduces colic and spasm
  • bulk laxative for constipation (taken as a tea of seeds)

Respiratory system

  • relieves colds, sinusitis, bronchial congestion, hay fever and asthma depressing mucous secretion
  • prevents ear infections and glue ear
  • soothes cough reflex
  • protects mucosae from irritation

Immune system

  • reduces swelling and inflammation
  • stops bleeding
  • promotes wound healing
  • reduces fever and infections
  • clears toxins
  • has antiviral action against herpes viruses and adenoviruses

Urinary system

  • helps in urinary tracts infections

Reproductive system

  • reduces excessive menstrual bleeding
  • useful for prostatitis enlargement


  • cures cuts, stings and insect bites


  • pull off the leaves
  • strip the immature, green fruits with your fingers
  • gather the seeds inside the mature fruits

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