White-man’s footprint

White-Man's Footprint

Also referred to as “Englishman’s Foot”.    Those of us who have lived in post-colonial India or Africa rather wince at these names because the colonials left a very mixed footprint indeed. Those of us descended from colonists in Canada are not normally as sensitized unless we’ve just glanced queasily at an article on “residential schools” or driven past a “reserve.”  Still,  this humble plant, seemingly omnipresent  along trails, and in the middle of our parks and playing fields would seem to be one of the gifts we wish the English had left at home.

I’ve always viewed this plant with some annoyance- as ugly and invasive.

And yet it was apparently highly prized by my forebearers, edible, and pretty much good for what ailed you either as a poultice  or taken internally as a tea.  It must be valid.  Among it’s toted uses is relief of Hemorrhoids. As I have learned in Ghana, from listening to bus hawkers, and from  reading many patent medicine claims, if it’s not good for “Piles”- hemorrhoids, it’s not worth it’s salt!

If you want to eradicate it from your property you can persistently pick it before it seeds (its a perennial), or let the grass grow longer to shade it out, or cover it with mulch.  However, if you want to venture into herbal territory I found a well-written article, much better to just pass on than to reshape.  Check out Holli Richey.

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1 Comment »

  1. Janet said

    Very cool – I never realized plantain was edible much less useful 🙂 – the two not being as synonymous when you get all your food in grocery stores!

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