Today we have Plantain. Common Plantain, Greater Plantain, Waybread, White Man’s Footprints, or any of half a dozen other local names in various localities. I’ve noticed, but don’t quote me on this, that whenever a plant has a load of different names, it usually means that it has been found to be quite useful over the years. Once again, this is one of those that fall into the – you can eat it but why would you bother – category. To the delight of archaeologists, it grows best on disturbed ground and it makes its point by being very tolerant of being walked on. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? How did it manage before people came along and dug up the ground for it? I suppose that you could point a finger at pigs and other rooting animals as its main benefactors but then that leaves you with the question of who came first man or pig.
But enough unresolvable ancient mysteries – what is it actually useful for? Well, the list of things it does just goes on and on, depending on who you read. If I tell you that one of its names is Snake Weed, would it come as a surprise to you that it is said to be useful against snake bite? Other authorities content themselves with plant and insect stings, blisters and bruises. A common user was the reaper with his scythe, an indication that harvest time was also a time of raw patches on the hands from the gruelling labour.
Then, of course, it was also handy to have around to ward off mad dogs.