This humble common weed happens to be one of Courtney's most favourite plants. If you've spent much time with her at all, she has likely introduced you to plantain (Plantago major) at some point. Also referred to as "white man's footprint" - partly due to the fact that European colonists brought plantain to the Americas because of its vital importance both as medicine and food, and partly due to the fact that plantain prefers compacted soil, so you will mostly find it in highly trodden areas - plantain is one of the most abundant edible and medicinal plants in the world.

If you haven't met Plantago before, you may still be imagining a large banana (Musa), however the plantain we are referring to is very different. You’ve probably played with this plant as a child, trying to separate the leaf and stem from the long stringy white veins - similar to the veins of a celery stalk. Plantain grows in a basal rosette formation with one long flower stalk growing up from the middle. The entire plant can be used for consumption and medicine and you will start to see it everywhere once you get to know it, from your backyard, to driveways, to the cracks in the sidewalks.

A wonderful first aid plant, plantain has antiseptic, analgesic, and potent anti-inflammatory properties. The tannins in plantain help to draw tissues together and stop bleeding. Plantain is rich in allantoin, a compound that helps to promote healing of skin cells, making it great for cuts and scrapes and to help skin issues and irritation. Plantain also has a unique ability to “draw out” - should you find yourself with a bee sting, bug bite (including ticks) or in an extreme situation, a snake bite, applying plantain immediately will help to draw out the venom, soothe and disinfect the area.

I recently visited a stunning town in remote Newfoundland called Trepassey for a wedding with my extended family. While there, my sister-in-law had walked through some tall grass and thought she had gotten stung by something. My daughter, who is six, examined her leg and said, “That's not a bug bite! You got stung by stinging nettle! Hang on a second.” And she ran off, momentarily returning with a plantain leaf. She told my sister-in-law to wash it and chew it up (creating a spit poultice) and apply it to the stings. Desperate for some relief, my sister-in-law chewed it up on the spot and applied it to the swelling blisters, she was amazed when it worked immediately. I heard this story hours later and it made me a proud mama!

As I am writing this I am realizing how many times plantain came in handy that day. From using plantain salve (which I carry around with me wherever I go as a first aid item) to apply to the bride’s finger to make sure her ring would fit, to applying it to the groom’s blisters (after he had injured his hand the previous day digging a hole for a 12-foot cross they had erected for the ceremony on the shores of Trepassey), to stuffing a few leaves in my shoe to soothe the beginnings of a blister caused by my beautiful but impractical heels, on and on go the virtues of plantain, they are endless. We will spend another post sharing more about the benefits of plantain used internally, but for now feel free to try making this salve at home - or when in need just chew up a leaf and apply it to what ails you! For burns, bites, bruises, abrasions, and tired sore feet.

To make a plantain salve, we collected the leaves, cleaned and dried them thoroughly, as they tend to be muddy and dusty. It is important that the leaves are very dry before adding them to the oil, because if the water content is too high, the infusion will develop mold. 

Once dry, we chopped the leaves finely.

And packed the chopped leaves into a jar.

After choosing a jar that was the correct size so that there wouldn't be too much air at the top, we poured a mixture of olive oil and coconut oil just until the leaves were covered. We left the oil to infuse for several weeks.

As the plantain infused, the oil transformed into a rich green colour and smelled very potent. We strained the oil through cheesecloth placed in a fine mesh strainer and pressed out every last medicinal drop. 

We heated the oil very gently in a pot and added some beeswax, leaving it on low heat and stirring occasionally until melted. We were careful not to heat the oil too hot as this reduces the medicinal potency.

Finally, we poured the salve into individual containers and let them cool before covering them with lids. 


  • plantain leaves
  • olive oil and/or melted coconut oil
  • beeswax


  • pick plantain leaves from a patch that has not been sprayed by pesticides
  • wash and dry leaves thoroughly
  • chop leaves finely (or use a food processor)
  • pack into a jar and add oil until leaves are just covered
  • seal lid tightly and let the oil infuse for three to four weeks
  • strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer
  • gently heat the oil in a double boiler and add the beeswax (about 2 tbsp per cup of oil)
  • once the wax has melted, pour the salve into a sterilized container
  • wait until the salve has cooled and set before closing the lid


Last week, we featured marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) flowers in our post on edible flowers, this week, we used marshmallow root to make some tasty marshmallows!

Though the modern marshmallow mainly consists of sugar and gelatin, marshmallows used to be made with marshmallow root. The plant's genus name Althaea comes from the Greek althein, which means "to heal." Because of the its demulcent and emollient healing properties, the original confection was created for medicinal purposes, to soothe sore throats and calm irritated digestive tracts. The use of marshmallow both medicinally and as a treat can be dated back to Ancient Egypt, where they would make a concoction using sap extracted from the plant and sweetened with honey. Years later, another version of the candy showed up in France made with egg white meringue, called pâte de guimauve.

These marshmallows are infused with marshmallow root and sweetened with local organic unpasteurized honey, so they are not only a delicious treat, but might actually help next time you have an irritated throat, dry cough or an upset stomach.

We included rose petals in our infusion to add a subtle floral flavour, and because roses are a calming complement to mallow and can also be used as a traditional home remedy for sore throats. 

But that doesn't mean I'm going to wait until I have a cold to eat these marshmallows. I just put some in my dandelion "coffee" and they made the most dreamy, fluffy, sweet, marshmallow foam.


  • 4 tbsp organic gelatin powder
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp marshmallow root
  • small handful of dried rose petals
  • 1 cup organic honey
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • cornstarch for dusting


  • line your baking dish with parchment paper
  • place marshmallow root and rose petals in a small bowl and add hot water. Let sit for 15 minutes, strain and reserve the infused water (make sure it still equals one cup)
  • pour 1/2 cup of your infused water into a large bowl or mixer. Add the gelatin and mix quickly to ensure it is evenly incorporated. Let it sit while you continue with the honey syrup. The gelatin mix will solidify
  • meanwhile, pour the other half of your infused water and your cup of honey into a medium saucepan
  • bring the honey mixture to a boil. Once it boils, stir constantly for about 7-8 minutes - make sure it does not boil over. (If you are using a candy thermometer, remove the pan from the heat as soon as it reaches 240°F, or the soft ball stage)
  • use the mixer or handmixer to begin breaking up the gelatin mixture and slowly begin pouring in the honey syrup along the side of the bowl
  • once all the syrup is added, turn the mixer to high and whip for about ten minutes until the mixture fluffs up and begins to form gentle peaks
  • during the last minute of mixing, add the rose water
  • working quickly, pour the marshmallow cream into your lined baking dish and smooth with a greased spatula (or place a layer of cling film on top, and smooth the surface with your hands
  • let sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours
  • remove cling film - dust a cutting board with corn starch and turn the marshmallow pan onto the cutting board
  • slice into individual marshmallow cubes with a greased knife
  • dust marshmallows with cornstarch to keep them from sticking