The name of the plant may confuse some as it shares its name with something that is completely different...the banana-like plantain, which is native to the Caribbean. The so-called weed plantain was called by the Native Americans "the white man's footprint," because it seemed to follow European settlers. Brought over on the boats due to the healing properties, it has completely made itself at home and naturalized itself in Canada.
Today I got into something while in the woods...not sure if it was a bug that bit my toe or I brushed against a plant that I had a reaction too while wearing my flipflops? Wow...can you say that spot itches and really on the worst spot possible! Red and a raised welt....so I thought why not? I searched for some plantain at the back of the house and found a few small leaves. I crushed them with a little water in my mortar and pestle and applied it to the spot and wrapped it in a washcloth and elastic band. Ok so even with all my faith in herbal medicine I must admit that I was truly astonished at how fast the plantain poultice worked. Almost instant relief. The welt doesn't itch at all now and the redness has reduced significantly (maybe I can't really tell because it's covered in green mush hahah but that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Honestly it works better than any anti-itch commercial bug cream I've ever used.
Plantain is also edible.The leaves are loaded with iron and other important vitamins and minerals. You can sautee the leaves when small and tender, usually in the spring with a little butter and garlic if you wish. If you harvest later in the season, beware! the larger leaves are still edible but to me are YUCK! I don't like bitter flavours or fibrous textures as my first food choice.
So look in your yard or along the urban street scape and see if you can find some plantain. The kids will think you are magic if you make the poultice for their bites out of some "weed".