Legend has it that Plantain was a maiden that stood by the roadside waiting for her lover to return for so long, that she ended up turning into this roadside weed....those were the days...
Whenever I talk about the seedheads of Plantain at my foraging workshops, someone pipes up with stories of playing with the seedheads in childhood. Long before video games & cellphones, kids knew how to make their own fun. Simply get a really long stalk of plantain with a dried seedhead at the end, bend it back and let it go like an arrow, the cone shaped flower will dart out, aim well!
Otherwise you can battle 'soldiers', with stalk against stalk, battling it out until the first seedhead falls off (fallen soldier).
Have you ever tasted the flowers/seed heads of plantain? On their own and fresh they have an incredible mushroom like flavor. Would be interesting to experiment with cooking these.
You may have heard of Psyllium husk or powder, which is a high fibre supplement often used in gluten free baking or diets to soothe the digestive tract and bowels. Well this comes from a cultivated variety of plantain. So it goes without saying that (if you have a lot of time on your hands) you can collect all the tiny seeds from your flowering plantain and make your own psyllium husk. At the very least you can sprinkle onto your breakfast or into your smoothie for it's muciligenic effects.Plantain Seed mix
You can make a delicious seed mix by combining a handful of plantain seeds with 3 handfuls of pumpkin & sesame seeds each (or you can use sunflower seeds), heat a cast iron pan and toast the seeds, then add a splash of tamari (soy sauce). Tip into another bowl to cool, then enjoy. Yum.
The seeds are known to spread so quickly, especially alongside agriculture that archaeologists have looked for fossilised plantain pollen to work out the movements of early Neolithic farmers in Europe.
If you're not in love with this 'weed' yet, there's still more you can use it for. The leaves have been used to draw out poisons, splinters, abscesses or infection from wounds. First heat the leaves & place the upper side of the leaf onto the wound to draw out infection/splinter/poison. Once the wound is clean and no longer infected use the bottom side of the leaves against the skin for their soothing properties. You can also use Plantain leaf juice to soothe ulcers, boils, burns & cold sores.
I often get asked of Plantain is related to the Banana like Plantains. No. The Plantain here is from the genus plantago, whilst the Banana like Plantains are from the genus musa. No relation at all as far as I can tell....