Plantain is a deep rooted perennial herb, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. Similar to chicory it grows from a rosette, however, its leaves are ribbed, with fine hairs and a sharp point. Developed from the well known flat weed, plantain grows all year round and in contrast to chicory has strong winter growth.
It is suited to a wide range of soil types, including low fertility and has good tolerance to soil acidity. Minimum average rainfall for optimum growth and survival is 600-700mm. Sowing can occur in autumn or spring where high rainfall or irrigation is available. Sowing rates vary in pasture mixes from 1-3kg/ha.
Plantain also contains high levels of minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, cobalt) and trace elements (zinc, copper, selenium). Sheep grazing trials have shown significant increases in both copper and selenium uptake. Again, this is untested in other livestock. Plantain has also shown some evidence of containing desirable levels of condensed tannins (plant protein protected from microbe breakdown), along with anti-microbial (substances that inhibit growth of microorganisms) and anthelmintic properties.