Mr. Scrimp and I spent quite a bit of time outside over the last few days. He was clever and used bug spray. I was not.
We both ended up with a truly ridiculous number of bites--although I admit, Mr. Scrimp got far fewer than I did. I started counting them and got bored after bite number 33 just on my legs.
Fortunately, my front yard is a source of an excellent bug bite cure, one which I learned about years ago: plantain.
That's right. I'm talking about the ubiquitous, find-it-everywhere annoyance that is the second most-common turf weed after dandelion. If you are responsible for yard care, I imagine that this little plant makes you tear your hair out.
But don't mow it down! If you have a yard full of plantain that hasn't been contaminated by commercial fertilizers or pesticides, there are a lot of useful things it can do.
The first thing I'm going to mention, as you may have guessed, is that plantain makes an excellent topical treatment for insect bites. Plantain leaves are an anti-histamine, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. Exactly what you need when you're covered with bug bites! And all you need to do is chew a little up and stick it on the bite. Scratch too hard and make the bite bleed? On small wounds, plantain can also act to inhibit bacterial growth and stop bleeding by constricting blood vessels.
Leaves from broad-leaf plantain varieties (as in the picture above) also make an excellent addition to salad. They can be steamed and mashed, added to salsa verde, or eaten raw. Like dandelion, plantain leaves are a diuretic.
When plantain leaves are dried and made into a tea, they will coat and soothe sore or scratchy throats, help clear mucous from airways if you have a cough.
So think again before you just mow it down or cover it in pesticides. Plantain is an incredibly useful plant, just waiting out there for you to pick it.