Weeds are survivors—that’s part of what makes them weeds—and none more so than the lowly plantain. This plant, carried throughout the world by European colonists for its medicinal uses, thrives in even the most inhospitable places.
It is common along roadsides and paths, in lawns, and even in the tiniest of cracks in pavement. It withstands trampling and mowing, and can resprout from pieces of root left in the soil.
It was known by the Anglo-Saxons as waybread or waybroad, for its habit of colonising roadsides, and it was revered for its tenacity.
And thou, Waybroad,
Mother of Worts,
Open from eastward,
Over thee carts creaked,
Over thee Queens rode,
Over thee brides bridalled,
Over thee bulls breathed,
All these thou withstoodest
Venom and vile things
And all the loathly ones,
That through the land rove.
Anglo-Saxon poem about plantain, as reproduced in A City Herbal, by Maida Silverman.
As a gardener, I should despise plantain’s tenacity, it’s ability to invade and overtake my garden. Instead, I side with the Anglo-Saxons—I admire it. I might even say I aspire to be as tenacious myself.
Be tough. Be strong. Thrive in spite of the tramplings of life (or the bridalling of brides). Be a plantain.