Plantain, Buck's Horn

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Plantain, Buck's Horn

Botanical Name: Plantago coronopus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Plantaginaceae

Synonyms: Cornu Cervinum. Herba Stella. Herb Ivy. Buckshorne. Hartshorne.
Parts Used: Whole plant, leaves.
Habitat: It is an annual, found on sandy commons, waste places and chalky banks, especially near the sea, being fairly common and generally distributed in England.

The Buck's Horn Plantain is the only British species which has divided leaves more or less downy and usually prostrate. It is very variable in the size and in the lobing of the leaves, which are from 1 to 12 inches in length, one-ribbed, either deeply divided nearly to the base, or merely toothed and almost entire. The flower-spikes are slender, many-flowered, short or long, the bracts to the flowers have a long point and the sepals are strongly winged. The pale brown seeds are mucilaginous and adhere to the soil when they fall. In Salmon's Herbal we find 'Our Common Buck's Horn Plantain' described thus: 'Root single, long and small, with several fibres. If sown or planted from seed, it rises up at first with small, long, narrow, hairy, dark-green leaves, almost like grass, without any division, but those that come after have deep divisions and are pointed at the end, resembling the snaggs of a Buck's Horn, from whence it took its name. When it is well grown, the leaves lie round about the root on the ground, resembling the form of a star and thereby called Herba Stella. There is also a prickly Buck's Horn Plantain, which is rougher, coarser and more prickly than the other. In Italy, they grow the first in their garden as a Sallet herb. The second grows on mountains and rocks. They both flower in May, June and July, their seeds ripening in the mean season and their leaves abide fresh and green in a manner all the winter. The qualities, specifications, preparation and virtues are the very same as those of Plantage major. The decoction in wine, if it is long drank, cureth the strangury and is profitable for such as are troubled with sand, gravel, stones, etc. The catasplasm of leaves and roots with bay salt applied to both wrists and bound on pretty hard (yet not too hard) cures agues admirably.' Medicinal Action and Uses: As a remedy for ague, the whole plant, roots included, was even hung round the neck as an amulet. Gerard says: 'The leaves boyled in drinke and given morning and evening for certain days together helpeth most wonderfully those that have sore eyes, watery or blasted, and most of the griefs that happen unto the eyes.'