A population of Plantago lanceolata (ribwort plantain) on the path was found to have higher trampling tolerance than populations away from the path; this reflected the sharp differences in the conditions of the plant at these sites. Ribwort Plant had generally a higher tolerance to trampling than any other plants as more were found on the path, but there were less compared with other plants as distance increased from the path. These results suggest that the competition level found on the path was sufficient enough to impose a selection pressure for the evolution of tolerance in a sensitive species, but in some areas the distribution of Ribwort Plantain were the same. This provides that other conditions affect the tolerance of trampling for Ribwort Plantain.
“There is currently considerable interest [in North America - SG] in developing English plantain as a pasture plant for grazing livestock as part of an effort to reduce the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and replace them with medicinal herbs or their active principles”
The plantains seem to have been an herb of particular importance to the Anglo-Saxons, both medicinally and magically. The Anglo-Saxon “Nine Herbs Charm” mentions plantain or “waybread” as effective against “the loathly foe roaming over the land”. Plantain also appears as one of the three herbs making up the ointment used in the charm Wiþ Færstice (“Against a Sudden Pain”), one of the best-known spells against the ailments variously known as elf-shot, witch-shot, troll-shot, u.s.w.; and the culprits in this spell are likewise described as riding over the land. The roots of smooth plantain (probably plantago major) are included in the Leechdom recipe to cure someone who has the elfsogoþu (either “alf-hiccups” or “alf-sucked”, that is, anaemic) – which likewise imply that the plant was seen as a protection against malicious elves and similar supernatural beings. The title “mother of herbs” given to plantain in the Nine Herbs charm also suggests an understanding that this plant was exceptionally powerful1.
Mac Coitir notes that in Ireland, ribwort plantain was known as Slánlus (“health herb”) and believed to have immense properties of healing. “Indeed, it was believed that ribwort plantain was so powerful that it could bring back the dead. However, while it could be used to cure many ailments, there was also a danger that if the wind changed while you were collecting it, you could lose your mind”. He also comments that, “Plantain traditionally spreads with the arrival of agriculture, and pollen samples of ribwort plantain have been found in Ireland dated from about 4,000 to 3,000 BC, which demonstrate that cultivation was taking place in the country at the time2.
In Norwegian tradition, it was the custom on Midsummer’s Eve to take several flower-heads of ribwort plantain, preferably an uneven number, and pluck the flowers away, then put them under a stone with a wish for each. If any showed fresh flowers the next morning,...