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Plantain - The Prequel #10 Traditional Geocache

Hidden : 08/16/2022
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Geocache Description:

This geocache is part of the Gold Country GeoTour – The Prequel: Be A Guest.  This GeoTour focuses on a step back in time to learn about before the Gold Rush ensued: languages of the region’s culturally diverse families, handed down traditions such as recipes, flora and fauna, historic sites of significance, and points of interest. These stories will help preserve the oral languages and traditions of the region as well as assist in educating visitors and locals alike to the cultural diversity and environmental sensitivity of the region.


Plantain: Plantago major, also known as Broadleaved Plantain, White Man’s Footprint, Waybread, or Greater Plantain.

Secwépemc: słeq w ’qeenéłp, or słeq w ’qeenákaʔ (frog’s leaves), or słəәqłəәq’qəәnén’st’yəә, słəәqw łəәqw ’qəәnénəәkəәʔ (little frog’s leaves)

Stl’atl’imx (Fraser River): tł’əәmin-áltskza, tł’emináltskzaʔ (veins along the length or veined/sinewy-leaved), p̓eʕp̓iʕ̓łh-áltskzaʔ (frog-leaves), p'eʕp'íʕ'ła (frog), tł’ímin (vein/sine)'; altskzaʔ (leaf)

Nlaka’pamux: p’əәp’ey’łeh-éytx w (frog-leaved)

Nsyilxcən: skew’ark’xníkst (frog leaves)


English translation: frog leaves, sinew leave, Plantain (Plantago major)


Family: Plantaginaceae

Origin: Europe

Duration: Perennial

Color: Green leaves with yellow to green flower spikes

Typical Bloom (varies by elevation): April to September

Plantain in British Columbia is usually one of two species, Broadleaf of Lance Plantain. Plantain has over 200 species! Plantain can be identified by is broad and lance shaped leaves. The bright green and basal leaves have strong strands of strings in the main veins that run through them. The smooth or finely toothed leaves can be very large, reaching up to 7 inches long and more than 4 inches wide. 

Plantain plants typically lay close to the ground with somewhat of a flattened appearance but may reach heights of 5 inches. The blooms of the Plantain are spikes upon the long stems growing erect from the plants center rosette. These tiny 3 mm florets are yellow to green in colour running the length of the stalk and tightly clustered together.

Plantain has a very wide habitat and range, and in many urban areas is considered a weed growing commonly among dandelions. It prefers soils that have been disturbed such as roadsides, lawns, fields, flower and vegetable gardens, trails, forestry cut blocks, and can usually be found, today, any where that people have disturbed the land.

Indigenous Cultural Notes: Thought to be introduced with explorers to North America in the 1600’s Plantain was called White Man’s Footprint. The young, tender leaves are edible and could be eaten raw. The older leaves were stringy and would be cut up and boiled in stews and soups. The seeds were harvested and ground into flour to be used in cakes.

The roots of this multi purpose plant were used to help with toothaches and headaches simply by chewing a piece of it. The Plantain leaves and juices can be used as a poultice in the same manner to treat many skin aliments such as rashes, cuts, burns, blisters, bruises, snake and insect bites, poison ivy or oak, and sunburns. 

Plantain was also used to treat sores of the mouth, sore throats, bronchitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, and aching muscles and joints. It was made in to poultices and ointments for open sores and wounds. Plantain is one of the most useful plants on the planet, providing food and medicinal properties through tannins and astringents contained with in it!

Interesting Facts: Plantain seeds can last up to 60 years in the ground making it hard to eradicate from lawns and gardens. Plantain is a nutrient dense food being entirely edible and contains the vitamins A, C, and K, zinc, potassium, and silica. The seeds are also high in carbohydrates, omega 3 fatty acids and proteins.

Medicinal plant information is for historical information only. Gold Country Communities Society is not encouraging harvesting of native plants for food and/or medicine.


Researched and written by Lana Rae Brooks

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