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Plantain and purslane

 
master pollinator
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I'm from the Midwest, and something I've noticed since I was a child was the purslane growing up through every available sidewalk crack, and the broad-leafed and the seedheads atop their thin stems. The purslane was easily noticeable because if you stepped on it, it was slick, like any succulent. The plantain was fun to run through and watch the seedheads scatter when you kicked them with your Chuck Taylors.

We often don't find out until later in life that these ubiquitous "weeds" are actually superfoods. More nutritious than most of the things we grow in the garden. So my question is...

Does anyone actually dedicate bed space to these guys in the garden? What are your strategies? And how prolific are they?

j
 
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We have one section of our lawn that is not mowed during a portion of the summer to allow the plantain to go to seed.  I like to eat the seeds fresh off the plant and also use the leaves to treat skin irritations and wasp bites.
 
Jim Garlits
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I love that idea.

j

Tim Siemens wrote:We have one section of our lawn that is not mowed during a portion of the summer to allow the plantain to go to seed.  I like to eat the seeds fresh off the plant and also use the leaves to treat skin irritations and wasp bites.

 
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I don't have wild purslane so mine is grown in pots.

My wild plantain grows where I park my car so I have been tempted to dig it up and transplant it to the garden.

I am not sure if it would transplant well so I leave it where I park my car.  It is a gravel parking lot.  the last place someone would expect plantain to grow.
 
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Those are two weeds I wish I had more of!
 
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I bought purslane seed because I didn’t have any. I also do plan to save plantain seed from the weeds in my grass, so I can have a patch of it. In fact, maybe it could be used as a garden path plant.
 
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I leave some purslane to grow between the rows of my corn, since it is low and doesn't block light. Later I cut it at the roots and use it for mulch. It grows right back so I get more in a few weeks.
 
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These two pop up randomly in mowed and unmowed areas of my yard.  I leave them alone where I can, especially if they come up in a garden bed.  I leave them as living mulch.  They don't seem to compete with my stawberries and asparagus so far, so I don't pull them when I weed.  

Since they just keep coming up without a designated area, I see no need to set aside one for them.  Besides, they might not grow well if they don't pick the spot themselves!  (Like my horseradish, LOL)
 
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I leave weed purslane in my garden alone until I am hungry.  I don't have plantain.
 
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I try to have at least one plantain somewhere in my garden at all times.  It's so valuable for bee stings, takes the pain away almost immediately, like magic.
 
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No purslane around here, and I only see plantain in lawns and sidewalk cracks.
When I had a lawn, I encouraged the plantain along with the purple nettle ,onion grass and Creeping Charlie.

I wish it grew in my garden beds, it would be a renewable source of food for my humans and animals.
It didn't seem to take well to my attempts to transplant it.
 
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Hello,

There are both varieties of plantain here, the shorter plantago major with broad ovalish leaves, and the other slender variety longer leaves. Have I mixed up the name?
As has been said, they grow where they fancy, in gravel, in grass.
I chomp on the mushroom flavoured seed heads and collect leaves for salads.
The leaves are great  for rubbing on insect bites. A friend says that they can be used with any other two herbs, making a trio! to rub on bites and sores. I have have found this to be particularly effective.
Plantain tincture might be next.

As for the purslane, a major source of is it omega 3, great for vegetarians, it pops up in unexpected places. It just ‘arrived’.
I guard it, religiously, leaving some of the tiny yellow flower heads in the faith of it reseeding
The red stalk variety grows here.
I have sown golden purslane without success so far and will try again.
Purslane makes great pesto. I haven’t yet tried lacto-fermenting it.
Best wishes and blessings for a wonderful weekend
 
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I planted corners of my gardens with perennials - narrow leaf plantain from seed, walking onion, hazelnuts, goji berry, bloody dock, horseradish, Solomon's Seal. In the blank spots in between I sowed annual greens like Black Seeded Simpson lettuce and mustard greens.


And all my walking paths have native broad leaf plantain growing. I have tried to dig it up and transplant the road leaf plantain, with mixed success.

Bloody dock.
 
pollinator
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I had loads of plantain growing throughout the lawn on my one acre.  I know some of my friends and neighbors curse the stuff, but I never minded it.  Then, I learned of all its benefits.  I harvested some leaves to make a batch of salve, and it worked better than I dared hope to heal sores that had been present on my arms for way too long.  It even seemed to make a dent on some scarring.  Last year, I went out to harvest some for another batch of salve and there just wasn't enough.  I'm thinking that it was because it was so rainy and wet.  Both plantain and purslane seem to thrive where it is arid.  I'm hoping that this year is better ie: not rain every single day for months on end!  It rained last night!  February in Vermont--go figure.  I keep telling myself, had it been snow, I'd be shoveling right now.
The purslane grows in my vegetable garden, and I let it be.  When I'm out there, I'll snack on it. It is so low growing, that it's not disturbing anything.  Same with plantain.  I've never worried too much about the lawn area which is very much a polyculture!  I actually bought white clover seed and sprinkled it about.  There had been some but not enough, and being it is a nitrogen fixer, it adds health and vigor to all the plants in my lawn and it is very green.
 
Jim Garlits
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I'm going to have to make some salve this year, because I always get plantain coming up through a rough section of sidewalk on the corner of my property. I like your statement that your lawn is very much polyculture. I'm going to start using that for when those with meticulously sculpted monoculture lawns berate me for my clover, dandelions, and plantains. Wonderful!

j

Barbara Simoes wrote:I had loads of plantain growing throughout the lawn on my one acre.  I know some of my friends and neighbors curse the stuff, but I never minded it.  Then, I learned of all its benefits.  I harvested some leaves to make a batch of salve, and it worked better than I dared hope to heal sores that had been present on my arms for way too long.  It even seemed to make a dent on some scarring.  Last year, I went out to harvest some for another batch of salve and there just wasn't enough.  I'm thinking that it was because it was so rainy and wet.  Both plantain and purslane seem to thrive where it is arid.  I'm hoping that this year is better ie: not rain every single day for months on end!  It rained last night!  February in Vermont--go figure.  I keep telling myself, had it been snow, I'd be shoveling right now.
The purslane grows in my vegetable garden, and I let it be.  When I'm out there, I'll snack on it. It is so low growing, that it's not disturbing anything.  Same with plantain.  I've never worried too much about the lawn area which is very much a polyculture!  I actually bought white clover seed and sprinkled it about.  There had been some but not enough, and being it is a nitrogen fixer, it adds health and vigor to all the plants in my lawn and it is very green.

 
Barbara Simoes
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Jim, I don't know whether or not you've ever made salve, but there is nothing easier!  Olive oil and beeswax plus whatever you're steeping in the olive oil!  I've tried other oils, but they seemingly go rancid fairly quickly.  Check out "Practical Self Reliance" and search for plantain salve.  Her instructions are so clear and easy to follow.  I've also made dandelion wine from her site that is delicious!
 
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I don't have enough sun to garden conventional foods but I have plenty of weeds so I have plantain, nettle, dandelion, sunchokes, chickweed, purslane, dock, poke, land cress, wild onion, crow garlic, dames rocket, and more growing in less than an acre. Some chose their own "patches" which I encourage and make more room for, and some I've given spots to flourish. I'm done failing at gardening and happy to forage my food from the abundance of these foods instead.

It's no big deal to not grow peppers and tomatoes when I get more vitamin C and A from nettles. A human doesn't need entertainment from food. It's just food. Rather than growing these plants as additions to my garden, they are my actual food garden. They are not an alternative. They are all we've got.
 
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I've occasionally had purslane around the property but grabbed some out of my parent's garden when mom was weeding and brought it home.  

As for plantain, the broadleaf variety is abundant but the narrow leaf only existed as a puny plant in the worst part of my yard.  When I put raised beds in that area, I let them grow and my how they did grow!  Transplanted a few seedlings into a nursery bed and will transfer them to various spots around the property and in my future medicinal garden.
 
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Plantain - I’m blessed with copious amounts of both ‘common’ and ‘English’ plantain scattered around my seven acre property.

Anne Miller mentioned it growing near her car. Indeed, methinks plantain is one of those ‘invasives’ ma-nature sends in to remediate disturbed and/or contaminated areas. One of the tanks of my pickup truck had a small leak, so the area around where I park is replete with plantain and chicory

Plantain, along with jewelweed, are my favorite ‘stop, drop, and roll’ plants for when my (usually) bare feet get a sting - I stop, grab some plantain, drop, and roll and masticate the plantain to get her juices flowing and add a little healing saliva to the mix, then apply the poultice to the sting

Sadly, purslane has been a little shy here. I’ve only found it growing here occasionally. Purslane and chick weed are among my favorite greens to forage
 
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I bought some commercial purslane seed, and was not real happy with the results.  The plants grew surprisingly tall - over a foot tall, maybe more (in full sun), with great fat stems, and the taste was nothing special.  The Portuguese regard it as a soup ingredient.
 
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Jim Garlits wrote:I'm from the Midwest, and something I've noticed since I was a child was the purslane growing up through every available sidewalk crack, and the broad-leafed and the seedheads atop their thin stems. The purslane was easily noticeable because if you stepped on it, it was slick, like any succulent. The plantain was fun to run through and watch the seedheads scatter when you kicked them with your Chuck Taylors.

We often don't find out until later in life that these ubiquitous "weeds" are actually superfoods. More nutritious than most of the things we grow in the garden. So my question is...

Does anyone actually dedicate bed space to these guys in the garden? What are your strategies? And how prolific are they?

j


I was surprised and very happy to notice I had real Purslane growing in my garden! (I mean the allotment garden when I was the new renter) I do not consider this a weed. It is fairly rare in my region. Probably it's planted by one of the former renters. So I do my best to keep it (have it coming back after it has disappeared in Winter).

Plantain, especially the kind with the long narrow leaves, is more like a weed. If it's growing in the path, it has to go! But I have a spot for it in the corner of the bed with the apple tree (it's in my 'apple tree guild' you could say).
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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BTW (forgot to mention in previous post) I LOVE Purslane, eat it raw in salads.
I do not like the taste of Plantain, but it's medicinal. For use against stings of Stinging Nettles (which have their spot in my garden too!)
 
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We don't have purslane unfortunately. I bought some seeds to try and grow it so I'll have to have a little dedicated spot for that so I learn to recognize it as it grows.

Plantain is everywhere on our land and I only pull it up when it is competing with something else I want. I also chose to leave spots undisturbed in my raised beds because it's nice to have some that isn't dusty or trampled by feet (a majority of it likes the paths where everyone walks.)
 
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I have both narrow & broad leaf plantain growing everywhere here…(we’re in western NC). I just pick what I need out in the field. Will definitely try eating the seeds!
I haven’t seen any purslane here.
What I have harvested wild & now have designated spots for is mullein! Once you plant a few, you will soon have many! I’ve planted a row of 15 or so along the outer edge of my garden. The broad leaves shade out weeds. Yay!! And mullein makes a great tea.
 
Alina Green
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Barbara Simoes wrote: Both plantain and purslane seem to thrive where it is arid.  



I don't find that to be true here.  The purslane definitely will grow in desolate, arid places, such as the edges of an urban parking lot.  But here, the plantain likes it in an area that gets more moisture.

Maybe it likes a middle-ground, between your too-wet, and arid?  Or maybe ours is the Chinese variety (which looks like P. major--maybe a botanist can tell them apart, but I don't know how to--)?
 
Alina Green
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Has anyone used the seeds of plantain like psyllium, for fiber and/or laxative properties?

If so, which species did you use, and what do you do--just rub the seeds off and consume as is?
 
Jim Garlits
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I'm going to do it this summer.

j

Barbara Simoes wrote:Jim, I don't know whether or not you've ever made salve, but there is nothing easier!  Olive oil and beeswax plus whatever you're steeping in the olive oil!  I've tried other oils, but they seemingly go rancid fairly quickly.  Check out "Practical Self Reliance" and search for plantain salve.  Her instructions are so clear and easy to follow.  I've also made dandelion wine from her site that is delicious!

 
Jim Garlits
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For me, it's so copious around here, I know where to find it if I need it. Nobody sprays around my neighborhood, so it isn't tainted. I may dink around with transplanting some to areas of my permaculture playground over the next couple of years, but for now, I just go out my front door, take a left down the dilapidated sidewalk, and there it is...

j

Donn Cave wrote:I bought some commercial purslane seed, and was not real happy with the results.  The plants grew surprisingly tall - over a foot tall, maybe more (in full sun), with great fat stems, and the taste was nothing special.  The Portuguese regard it as a soup ingredient.

 
Jim Garlits
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I'm loving the replies in this thread. Thank you all so much for posting.

j
 
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Barbara Simoes wrote:Jim, I don't know whether or not you've ever made salve, but there is nothing easier!  Olive oil and beeswax plus whatever you're steeping in the olive oil!  I've tried other oils, but they seemingly go rancid fairly quickly.  Check out "Practical Self Reliance" and search for plantain salve.  Her instructions are so clear and easy to follow.  I've also made dandelion wine from her site that is delicious!



I'm a big admirer of "Ashly Adamant" and "Practical Self Reliance".  It is  is hands-down one of the best websites out there. Intelligent, informative, and a huge amount of useful information on a wide range of topics.  Her recipe for pickled jalapenos is my go-to and my source for canning information.
 
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I might have sowed purslane once, nothing happened...
Plantains are plants of trodden land, especially Plantago major (greater P). Apparently drifted over on cartwheels from Europe, and established as 'white man's footsteps'. I've established some on my drive, which is too short and car-occupied to grow enough to harvest. Might need a dedicated planting.
Plantago lanceolata (ribwort P), prefers turf, as in roadsides: strimmed maybe a couple of times a year, not bowling-green scalped. I've no site like that.
Buckshorn Plantain, P coronopus, prefers bare ground near the sea in the UK, but I've grown it a few times in pots. Its leaves are tender and mild - recommended. It doesn't seem to have the robust outdoor character of P major.
 
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I have the narrowleaf plantain in the hot dry island in the parking lot of apt complex. it grows tall and proud and makes quite a visual statement  This is 6-8 inches of sand on top of asphalt. I am looking for chickweed & purslane to transplant in. My very vigorous strawberry has wandered in from pots on the patio. The birds seem to plant different flowers each year. Last year was poppies
 
Barbara Simoes
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A quick search and the NC Extension said this: Plantain is a highly nutritious wild edible, that is high in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. The young, tender leaves can be eaten raw, and the older, stringier leaves can be boiled in stews and eaten. The seeds are also edible. However, ingesting large quantities can cause a drop in blood pressure. This, from Farm and Dairy: Although plantain is considered a weed by some, it’s one of the most abundant and widely distributed medicinal crops in the world. The leaves are primarily used as medicine, but the seeds can also be utilized as a laxative. Plantain can be used to soothe bronchitis, burns, coughs, dermatitis, insect bites and stings, peptic ulcers, urinary tract infection and wound healing.  

Alina Green wrote:Has anyone used the seeds of plantain like psyllium, for fiber and/or laxative properties?

If so, which species did you use, and what do you do--just rub the seeds off and consume as is?

 
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Alina Green wrote:Has anyone used the seeds of plantain like psyllium, for fiber and/or laxative properties?

If so, which species did you use, and what do you do--just rub the seeds off and consume as is?



I made porridge from the seeds once. Didn't notice any drop in blood pressure, nor any laxative effect that I can remember. The taste was nice, but the seed shells stay crunchy no matter how long you boil the stuff. It would definitely work for thickening things the same way as psyllium. I had to keep adding water, since it thickened super fast and kept on thickening as I added more water. I think if I wanted to use it in cooking or gluten-free baking, I'd grind the seeds and use them the same as psyllium. However, they are very hard, so don't know a practical method for grinding. They are a bit too tiny for a mortar and pestle to work well. An alternative approach could be to boil or soak the seeds, and then strain out the shells using a cheesecloth or similar and use the liquid/goo, kind of like with flax seeds.

Edit to say I believe it was Plantago major I used. Don't think we have any others here.
 
jeff Swart
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Eino Kenttä wrote:... I'd grind the seeds and use them the same as psyllium. However, they are very hard, so don't know a practical method for grinding. They are a bit too tiny for a mortar and pestle to work well.



... might try a grain mill or grinder

I'll give it a try sometime and let y'all know - I've got a pretty good stash on hand I'm holding until I do more research on 'em
 
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These are two plants I will have to keep an eye out for this year.

I know I have seen them, but I never paid them much mind.

My mistake!
 
Alina Green
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Eino Kenttä wrote:I think if I wanted to use it in cooking or gluten-free baking, I'd grind the seeds and use them the same as psyllium.



I'm pretty sure they are used in gluten-free recipes, to help things hold together...stuff like coconut flour pancakes, perhaps.

Yup, some very handy plants...it's too degrading to call them "weeds," as if they were useless!
 
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