May 20, 2009


This is the time of year in Oklahoma to forage plantain. The leaves of this plant are soothing and healing on insect bites, stings, scratches and cuts. The plants are easily spotted and identified by the flower spikes they send up.

It's a low-growing plant, the flower spikes are just a few inches long. Just spend some time "hanging out" in your yard; chances are that eventually you will spot a plant, and once you spot the first one, you'll probably find more.

The first photograph is narrow-leaved plantain that grows in my front yard. The photo above is broad-leaved plantain, which is bigger and grows on the hillside behind my house.

Yarrow (above) is also blooming in my pasture now. The feathery leaves are easy to identify.

Yarrow leaves stop bleeding - pick the leaves and pack them on/in the wound. It works with dried leaves too.

I use both - fresh plantain leaves and yarrow flowers and leaves - to infuse oil and make a salve for cuts and scrapes and bug bites. I let the plant material set on a kitchen towel for a couple of hours until it "wilts".

There are two methods of infusing oil...

One is to infuse it slowly: tear it up and stick it all in a canning jar and fill with olive oil, leaving an inch or more of headspace. (I learned that the hard way... the oil tends to leak out the top if you have it too full.) Cover the jar loosely and put in sunlit spot. After several weeks the oil is ready to strain and use.

The other method is to put all the plant material in your slow-cookerand add the olive oil. Set it on the Warm setting if your crockpot has one, or else on Low. When it is finished, after an hour or so, strain the oil in muslin or cheesecloth. Don't cook it, you want to just warm the oil.

Since both plants are ready now, I could infuse both into oil at the same time, but usually I do one kind at a time when they are in season.

The salve I make for our family's use contains oil infused with plantain, yarrow and lemon balm. This year I plan to make another salve using comfrey, calendula and chickweed.

DISCLAIMER: I am not giving medical advice; 
you alone are responsible for your medical choices.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, your infused oil will be stronger if you make a double infusion instead of a single kind. I know most Americans cold infuse their oils, but here in Europe, we double infuse and heat for two hours each time in a double boiler. Halve your plant material and use half fresh or dried plant each time. I use the same timings when I'm demonstrating in workshops with a crockpot. If you're using fresh plant material remember to let the oil mixture sit for several hours to ensure the water and oil layers separate so you can decant the oil away from the water. It goes off more quickly if the water is left. Rosemary may take weeks to separate. I dry my calendula before making an oil and use the sun method for St John's wort. It's usually better to make single oils and then mix once they are infused. Yarrow and plantain are a wonderful mix. I add comfrey oil as well to make an "old wound oil". I've also added horse chestnut seed oil to that mixture to help with swollen ankles.


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