014. Plantago Major. Common Great Plantane, or, Way-bread.
Synonyma. Plantago. Pharm. Edin.
Plantago foliis petiolatis, ovatis, glabris; spica cylindrica. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 660.
Plantago latifolia sinuata. Bauh. Pin. 189.
Plantago simpliciter dicta. Raii Hist. Plant. 876.
Plantago latifolia vulgaris. Parkinson, 493.
Plantago vulgaris. Gerard. 419.
Plantago Major. Curtis, Flor. Lond. Relhan. Flor. Cantab. p. 61. Withering, Bot. Arrang. 142.
(greek) Dioscorid. [(Plantago Media) It has also been named from the number of ribs, or nerves of leaf, as (greek), (greek), &c.] (lingua agnina) Cl. Aiton pro varietatibus habet
α Plantago latifolia vulgaris. Park. Theat. 493.
β Plantago major, panicula sparsa. Bauh. Hist. 3. p. 503.
γ Plantago latifolia rosea, floribus quasi in spica dispositis. Bauh. Pin. 189. vide Hort. Kew.
Class Tetrandria. Ord. Monogynia. L. Gen. Plant 142.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Cal. 4-fidus. Cor. 4-fida: limbo reflexo. Stamina longissima. Caps. 2-locularis, circumscissa.
Spec. Char. P. foliis ovatis glabris, scapo tereti, spica flosculis imbricatis.
The root is perennial, short, thick, and puts forth several long whitish fibres, which strike down in a perpendicular direction: the leaves are oval, procumbent, irregularly subdentated, of a pale green colour, ribbed; ribs, commonly seven, often five, and sometimes nine: the footstalks are long, concave above, and proceed from the root; the flower-stems are generally three or four, about a span high, downy, round, smooth. below the spike, and somewhat incurated; the calyx is of four leaves, somewhat erect, oval, obtuse, smooth, and persistent; the flowers are small, produced on a long cylindrical imbricated spike, which occupies more than half the stem; each flower consists of a roundish tube, narrow at the mouth, and the four segments are heart shaped, pale, withered, and bent downwards; the bractea is oval, fleshy, and larger than the calyx; the stamina are whitish, longer than the corolla, and the antherae are purple: the germen is oval, the style short and filiform, and the stigma simple; the capsule divides horizontally in the middle; and, according to Mr. Curtis, contains about twenty unequal brown seeds. It grows commonly in pastures and way-sides, and flowers in June.
The name Plantago, is omitted in the London Pharmacopoeia, but it is still retained in the Materia Medica of the Edinburgh college, in which the leaves are mentioned as the pharmaceutical part of the plant: these have a weak herbaceous smell, and an austere bitterish subsaline taste; and their qualities are said to be refrigerant, attenuating, substyptic, and diuretic.
Plantago was formerly reckoned amongst the most efficacious of vulnerary herbs; and by the peasants the leaves are now commonly applied to fresh wounds, and cutaneous sores. Inwardly, they have been used in phthisical [Celsus, lib. 3. c. 22. Schulz, Mat. Med. p. 412. Pliny, lib. 26. c. 2. Petzoldt. Eph. Nat. Cur. cent. 7. Obs. 10. p. 25.] complaints, [Boyle de util. Phil. Nat. p. 2. p. 150.] spitting of blood, and in various fluxes, both [Rosenst. Baskd. p. 81.] alvine and hemorrhagic. The seeds, however, seem to us better adapted to relieve pulmonary diseases than the leaves, as they are extremely mucilaginous. The roots have also been recommended for the cure of tertian intermittents; and from the experience of Bergius, not undeservedly: "Plurimae sunt narrationes de utilitate radicis plantaginis in Tertianis. Periculum ipse feci, dosi largiori, scil. a drachmis 3 ad 6, quovis die, sub apyrexia; sed contra febres autumnales nihil valuit Plantago; in vernalibus autem febribus subinde opem tulit." [Mat. Med. p. 70.] An ounce or two of the expressed juice, or the like quantity of a strong infusion of Plantane, may be given for a dose; in agues the dose should be double this quantity, and taken at the commencement of the fit.
"Plantane has been alledged to be a cure for the bite of the rattle-snake: but for this there is probably but little foundation, although it is one of the principal ingredients in the remedy of the Negro Caesar, for the discovery of which he received a considerable reward from the Assembly of South Carolina," Duncan's New Edinb. Dispen.