Specification & Spread

Common plantain — Plantago major L.
Common plantain leaves — folia plantaginis majoris
Plantain family – Plantaginaceae
Other names: longspur, ribwort, psyllium, buckhorn plantain, rib grass.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant with a short rhizome and numerous fibrous roots. The leaves are gathered in the rosette and it is petiolate.
The petioles are equal to or longer than the leaf plate. The leaves are elliptical, juicy, glabrous, entire or slightly toothed, with 3-7 parallel veins, which, when broken, are pulled by long threads. The peduncles (floral arrows) are erect, ascending at the base, up to 50 cm high, at the top end with a long cylindrical inflorescence – a simple spire.
The flowers are tetramerous, inconspicuous, brownish, small, sitting in the axils of membranous bracts.
The fruit is an elliptical box with small dark brown shiny seeds (up to 16).

It blooms from May to August, the fruits ripen from June to November.

Spreading. It grows everywhere, except the Far North and the desert zone. It is a ruderal and weed plant. Continuous thickets does not form and does not grow on large areas. In connection with the laboriousness of harvesting raw materials, the plant was introduced into culture. It is cultivated mainly in Ukraine. The fresh leaves are harvested only from plantations. The plant resources are reduced due to plowing of fallow lands.

Habitat. It grows near roads, near housing, in meadows, in fields and gardens, along forest edges and banks of reservoirs.


The chemical composition of plantain

Common plantain leaves contain:

  • polysaccharides, including mucus (up to 11%),
  • iridoid glycosides (aukubin, katalpol),
  • bitter substances,
  • carotenoids,
  • ascorbic acid,
  • choline,
  • vitamin k,
  • vitamin U (fresh juice 2.4-2.75 mg% S-methylmethionine).
  • flavonoids,
  • mannitol,
  • sorbitol,
  • citric and oleanolic acid.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The raw materials are harvested during the flowering period, in May – August, as the leaves grow, before it starts to turn yellow or redden. It is recommended to harvest the leaves after the rain, but only after it dries out. The leaves are torn off or cut with a knife, sickle, scissors. On dense thickets mow the whole herbage, and then manually select the leaves. On industrial plantations, the harvest of leaves is harvested 1-2 times during the summer period with a harvester equipped with a hopper. Before drying, yellowed, pest-damaged leaves, flower arrows and other impurities are removed from the raw materials. Together with common plantain often grow other types of plantain, more or less similar to it. Greater plantain (Plantago maxima Juss.) – the whole plant is very large, the leaves are more or less hairy, the petioles are almost equal to the plate, fluffy-hairy, the spire is thick, the rim is silver-white. The leaves turn black when dried. It is widespread in the steppe and in the south of the forest-steppe regions of the European part of Russia, Western Siberia and Kazakhstan.

Cornu plantain (Plantago cornuti Gouan.) – the leaves at the base are wide wedge, hairy underneath, blacken when dried. The scapes are equal along the length of the plate or 1.5-2 times as long as it. The spire is thin. The corolla is brown. It is spread in steppe, forest-steppe and semi-desert areas and prefers saline soils.

Sweet plantain (Plantago media L.) – the leaves are hairy on both sides, acuminate at the top, broadly wedge-shaped at the base, on short petioles, sometimes almost sessile. The spire is thick, whisk silver-white. It grows in forest, steppe and semi-desert zones throughout Russia.

Urvilla plantain (steppe) (Plantago urvillei Opiz) – the leaves are oblong-elliptical, uniformly narrowed to both ends, densely hairy, 2-3 times shorter than the lamina or almost equal to the leaf. The spire is thick, dense, the aureole is white. It is spread in the south of the forest, in the forest-steppe and steppe zones.

Lanceolate plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) – the leaves are lanceolate, indistinctly toothed, with 3–5 protruding veins, petioles much shorter than lamellae. The spire is thick, short, narrowed to apex, the rim is brown. It grows in almost all regions of Russia.

Security measures. With proper preparation, you can not pull out the plants and cut off the outlet completely. This provides the ability to use the same arrays for 3-4 years. When harvesting the raw materials should leave a few plants per 1 m2 thickets for planting.

Drying. Dry the raw materials under sheds in attics with good ventilation, laying out a thin layer (3-5 cm); from time to time the leaves are mixed. Heat drying is possible at a temperature not higher than 50 ºС. The end of drying is determined by the fragility of the stalks. Brown and yellow leaves and impurities are removed from the dry raw material. The yield of dry raw material is 22-23% by weight of freshly harvested.

Storage. The raw materials are hygroscopic, when moistened it becomes damp and warm, therefore it should be protected from moisture. It is stored packed in bags and bales.

Whole raw materials

There are whole or partially crushed leaves, twisted, broadly ovate or broadly elliptical, whole or slightly toothed, with 3–9 longitudinal arcuate veins, narrowed into a wide petiole of various lengths. In the place of the stalk of a petiole one can see the long remains of dark filiform veins.
The leaf length is with stem up to 24 cm, the width is 3-11 cm.
The colour is green or brownish green. The smell is weak. The taste is slightly bitter.

Milled raw materials

The pieces of leaves of various shapes are passing through a sieve with holes with a diameter of 7 mm.
The colour is green or brownish green.
The smell is weak.
The taste is slightly bitter.


The pieces of leaf blades and stalks are passing through a sieve with 2 mm holes.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. Expectorant and anti-inflammatory agent.

The pharmacological properties of plantain

The preparations (decoction and extracts) from the leaves of common plantain have a regulating effect on gastric secretion, that is, during hypo-secretion – it excites, and with hyper-secretion – it decreases, which can be explained only by the effect on the inflammatory process in the stomach, which accompanies both hypo-secretion and hypersecretion. In either case, the reduction of inflammation leads to the normalization of secretory activity.
The anti-inflammatory effect due to the presence of polysaccharides (mucus, pectins), carotenoids and vitamin U.
In experiments, the plantain preparations also inhibit the motor activity of the stomach and have an antispasmodic effect.
Plantain pectic substances in granular form have a protective effect on gastric ulcers. The preparations from the leaves of plantain normalize cholesterol, low density lipoprotein, total lipids, the ratio of phospholipids/cholesterol.
Plantain has a calming effect, lowers blood pressure.
Plantain has expectorant and emollient properties. Like all mucus, plantain protects the epithelium of the respiratory tract, anti-inflammatory effect, helps to dilute sputum, normalize the properties of the respiratory tract and restore functions of the ciliary epithelium.

Plantain is used:

  • with wounds and ulcers accelerate healing,
  • has hemostatic,
  • anti-inflammatory and
  • bactericidal action.

Plantain juice inhibits the growth of pathogenic staphylococcus and retards the growth of hemolytic streptococcus.

Application of plantain

Juice from fresh leaves of plantain and its infusion is effective in c
hronic gastritis with reduced secretion, enteritis and colitis, with peptic ulcer.
The preparations from the leaves of the plant are used as an expectorant for bronchitis, whooping cough, tuberculosis and other diseases, accompanied by dry, painful cough with difficult to expectorant sputum.

Plantain juice is also used in the form of inhalation. Inhalation and aerosols are used in chronic rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis and chronic tonsillitis, it is used in the prevention and treatment of occupational respiratory diseases.
As an external anti-inflammatory, wound-healing and antimicrobial agent, fresh canned plantain juice, emulsion or ointment is used.
It is used for long-term treatment of patients with hypatic gastritis and gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer with normal and reduced secretion during periods of exacerbations, as well as for the prevention of relapse.

With increased acidity and excessive production of gastric juice, as well as with certain types of ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract. Contraindications for the treatment of this plant will be increased blood clotting, the presence of blood clots. Prolonged use of preparations from the plantain can cause high blood clotting and cause a tendency to thrombosis.