Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Ribwort plantain leaves in folk medicine

Traditionally the leaves of ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata, were used to stop bleeding,  According to a Co. Kerry contributor to the Irish Folklore Commission’s  1937-39 Schools’ Scheme (vol. 450):

‘When a person got a cut and was bleeding profusely, he pulled some slanlus (rib grass) leaves, chewed them in his mouth and then placed the pulp on the wound.  This always stopped the flow of blood.’

Similarly in 1983 a correspondent from Daingean, Co. Offaly, noted:

‘Rib grass is chewed and put on a wound to stop bleeding.’

More recently ribwort plantain  has been recommended as a treatment for nettle, Urtica dioica, stings.  This does not seem to be a traditional cure in Britain and Ireland, but has been introduced from other parts of the world, typically:

‘When I got stung by a nettle a woman from Australia told me to rub ribwort plantain on it’ [New Cross Gate, London, 2013].

‘Ribbed plantain used as nettle cure in U.S.A. [Lichfield, Staffordshire, 2014].

Adapted from Roy Vickery, Vickery’s Folk Flora (2019).

Image:  Blackheath, London Borough of Lewisham, May 2021.