Healthy, nutritious and free – for rabbits, small pets and people too!
Plantago lanceolata is a species of plantain also known as ribwort or buckhorn plantain or narrowleaf plantain.
Both narrowleaf and broadleaf plantain are perennial herbs which grow happily in even the poorest soils. The long leaves, slightly wider in the middle, grow erect with 3-5 parallel veins running vertically through the leaves. The tiny flowers present themselves asbrown-green oblongs on tall thin stalks and generally appear May through August.
Ribwort plantain has been used as food for sheep, who find it quite delicious, as do cattle and rabbits. In Irish folklore, the plant was even valued as a nutritious food for turkeys! It is high in calcium, sodium, cobalt and copper, and lower in magnesium, potassium and phosphate. Plantain is high in fiber, rich in B complex vitamins, vitamins A, C and K and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well. While it tends to go a bit bitter in the heat, it is delicious in spring salads!
Ribwort is easily dried by hanging bunches upside down in a well-ventilated area; in this way it can be fed to rabbits and other small pets all through the winter. Ribwort provides excellent roughage and promotes proper digestion and bowel function.
Ribwort can be found in most backyards and empty lots; make sure that you are harvesting from areas not sprayed with pesticides or chemical fertilizers and not subjected to auto exhaust fumes.