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Plantain (Plantago major)

Plantain ( Plantago major )

Euasterids I
Order : Mint family (Lamiales)
Family : Plantain family (Plantaginaceae)
Genre : Plantain ( Plantago )
Type : Plantain
Scientific name
Plantago major

The broad plantain ( Plantago major ), or broad plantain written, or large plantain is a species of plant that belongs to the plantain family (Plantaginaceae). It is now a plant species that is widespread worldwide and grows on streets, paths, squares, pastures, meadows and fields. Other common names for this plant species are: (broad-leaved) plantain, Wegebreit, Wegeblatt, Wegtritt, Wegetrene, Rippenblatt, Saurüssel, Mausöhrle, Arnoglossa (from Latin arnoglossa ), field herb.


Illustration by Otto Wilhelm Thomé, 1885

The broad plantain grows as a perennial herbaceous plant and reaches a height of between 3 and 25 cm. It forms a rhizome as a permanent organ. The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette and are spoon-shaped and the size of a palm. The simple leaf blade is ovate to elliptical and glabrous to dense, with short hairs.

The flowering period extends from June to October. Terminally on a leafless inflorescence stem which is approximately as long as or shorter than the leaves and at most twice as long as the fruit cluster, stands erect a ähriger inflorescence . The flowers are odorless. The greenish to whitish stamens are about 2 mm long and the wrong-heart-shaped anthers are about as long as they are wide. The pollen is spread by wind pollination.

The fruit usually contains 6 to 30, rarely up to 46 seeds.

The number of chromosomes in all three subspecies is 2n = 12.


The common plantain is a deciduous hemicryptophyte and a rosette plant with axillary flower sprouts and migratory roots. It is a deep root with a less permanent primary root; therefore the rooting takes place mainly from the short rosette axis.

The pronounced feminine flowers are wind - blooming of the "long-dust thread type". The pollen has leftover kit. The scars are long and almost pinnately hairy. The pollen sacs remain closed in damp weather. Around 2 to 3 million pollen grains are produced per inflorescence. Due to the spread of wind and the large number of plantain pollen, it is an important trigger for hay fever . Self-pollination is possible. The flowering period extends from June to October.

The fruits are six to twelve seed capsules. The common plantain is a wind and animal spreader; The main spread of the diaspores takes place via the sticky seeds that stick to animal paws, shoes and wheels. In addition, processing is spreading, for example through grain eaters. The fruit ripens between July and September. The seeds are light and cold germs .

Salt marsh broad plantain ( Plantago major subsp. Winteri )
Many-seeded broad-plantain ( Plantago major subsp. Intermedia )


Originally native to Europe, this type of plant (Middle High German wëgerīch ) has now spread worldwide. Since the common plantain (like the ribwort ) is one of the "hard-wearing" plants, it is an indicator of frequently used places. He once came to North America with the European settlers and was referred to by the indigenous population as “the footsteps of the white man”.

This type of plant is very resistant. It also grows in cracks in the pavement and on frequently walked lawns. The common plantain is not very sensitive to salts and, thanks to its roots that are up to 80 cm long, can also grow on compacted soils. It is a Plantaginetalia order character in Central Europe. In the Allgäu Alps, it rises to the Rappenseehütte up to 2090 m above sea level.


There are three subspecies that are sometimes considered to be separate species:

  • Common broad-leaved plantain, also called large plantain ( Plantago major subsp. Major ) is the subspecies with the largest leaves and 5 to 9 leaf veins .
  • Salt meadow broad-leaved plantain ( Plantago major subsp. Winteri (Wirtgen) Ludwig ) with a three-veined blade grows on salt meadows and in potash pits.
  • Broad-leaved plantain ( Plantago major subsp. Intermedia (DC.) Arcang. , Syn .: Plantago uliginosa F.W.Schmidt ), also called small plantain, is a subspecies with narrower leaves, 3 to 5 veins and a larger number of seeds. It thrives on clay, silt and sand banks. It is a character species of the Agropyro-Rumicion association in Central Europe.

Medicinal effect

The common plantain (called arnoglossa in medieval medicine like the ribwort plantain ) is a common folk remedy . It contains mucilage ( polysaccharides ), iridoid - glycosides , particularly Aucubin , bitter substances , tannins , polyphenols and other active ingredients. The juice or pulp from the leaves has an anti-inflammatory effect and promotes wound healing. Recent studies also point to a possible antiviral and immunomodulatory effect of Plantago major . The juice was popularly used for gastric mucosal inflammation , gastric and intestinal ulcers , diarrhea , irritable bowel syndrome , urinary tract bleeding, respiratory catarrh and insect bites of all kinds. Efficacy in these areas of application has not been sufficiently proven.


The leaves are edible as a salad as long as they are tender and young; however, older leaves quickly become tough and fibrous. Older leaves can be eaten cooked in stews. The leaves contain calcium and other minerals, and 100 grams of plantain contain about as much vitamin A as a large carrot. The seeds are so small that it is difficult to harvest, but they can be ground into a flour and then used as a flour substitute.


  • Eckehart J. Jäger (ed.): Excursion flora from Germany. Vascular plants: baseline . Founded by Werner Rothmaler. 20th, revised and expanded edition. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8274-1606-3 .
  • Manfred A. Fischer, Karl Oswald, Wolfgang Adler: Excursion flora for Austria, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol . 3rd, improved edition. State of Upper Austria, Biology Center of the Upper Austrian State Museums, Linz 2008, ISBN 978-3-85474-187-9 .
  • Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait . 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Manfred A. Fischer, Karl Oswald, Wolfgang Adler: Excursions flora for Austria, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol . 3rd, improved edition. State of Upper Austria, Biology Center of the Upper Austrian State Museums, Linz 2008, ISBN 978-3-85474-187-9 .
  2. a b c Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . With the collaboration of Angelika Schwabe and Theo Müller. 8th, heavily revised and expanded edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , pp. 872 .
  3. Erhard Dörr, Wolfgang Lippert : Flora of the Allgäu and its surroundings. Volume 2, IHW, Eching 2004, ISBN 3-930167-61-1 , p. 497.
  4. a b c Plantain in flowers in Swabia.
  5. Breitwegerich on the Langenbach website, Flora - indigenous plants .
  6. Johannes Hoops, Heinrich Beck: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde. Volume XXXIII, de Gruyter, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-11-018388-9 , p. 335, limited preview in the Google book search.
  7. ^ TG Tutin, VH Heywood, NA Burges, DM Moore, DH Valentine, SM Walters, DA Webb (eds.): Flora Europaea . Volume 4: Plantaginaceae to Compositae (and Rubiaceae) . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1976, ISBN 0-521-08717-1 , pp. 39 (English, limited preview in Google Book search).
  8. Broad plantain at NaturGate
  9. ^ Bernhard D. Haage: A new text testimony to the plague poem of Hans Andree. In: Specialized prose research - Crossing borders. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013, pp. 267–282, here: p. 278.
  10. Ursel Bühring: practical textbook of modern medicinal plant science. Basics - application - therapy. 3rd unchanged edition. Haug, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-8304-7368-8 , p. 85.
  11. GH Schmeler, A. Gurib-Fakim: Plant resources of tropical Africa. 11. Medicinal plants: 1. Backhuys, Leiden 2008, ISBN 978-90-5782-204-9 , p. 463, limited preview in the Google book search.
  12. Marina Bährle-Rapp: Springer Lexicon Cosmetics and Body Care. 4th revised and expanded edition. Springer Medicine, Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-24687-6 , p. 450.
  13. Muhammad Zubaira, Anders Ekholm, Hilde Nybom, Stefan Renvert, Cecilia Widen, Kimmo Rumpunen: Effects of Plantago major L. leaf extracts on oral epithelial cells in a scratch assay. In: Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Volume 141, No. 3, 2012, pp. 825-830, doi : 10.1016 / j.jep.2012.03.016 , PMID 22465512 .
  14. Lien-Chai Chiang, Wen Chiang, Mei-Yin Chang, Chun-Ching Lin: In vitro cytotoxic, antiviral and immunomodulatory effects of Plantago major and Plantago asiatica. In: The American journal of Chinese medicine. Volume 31, No. 2, 2003, pp. 225-234, doi : 10.1142 / S0192415X03000874 , PMID 12856861 .
  15. Odo Magdunensis: Herbal book of monastery medicine: the "Macer Floridus"; Medieval medicine. Reprinted by Johannes Gottfried Mayer, Konrad Goehl. Reprint-Verlag Leipzig, Holzminden 2003, ISBN 3-8262-1130-8 , p. 184.
  16. Timothy Lee Scott, Steven Harrod Buhner: Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, Rochester, VT 2010, ISBN 978-1-59477-305-1 , p. 253 limited preview in the Google book search
  17. Ray S. Vizgirdas, Edna Rey-Vizgirdas: Wild Plants Of The Sierra Nevada. University of Nevada Press, Reno 2005, ISBN 0-87417-535-6 , pp. 148-149, limited preview in Google Book Search.

Web links

Commons : Plantain  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files