Ribwort Plantain, is it growing in your paddock?

Ribwort Plantain or the Latin name: Plantago lanceolata

Also known as: English Plantain, Narrowleaf Plantain

Found in the British Isles, but imported to the USA and Australia

Ribwort Plantain  can be found on neutral and basic soils, on lawns, pastures, roadsides, fields and meadows around the UK.  If you don’t have any you might want to test your soil for high acidity. Good to eat for both our horses and us.

Ribwort Plantain is a Perennial plant has a rosette of basal leaves with one flowering stalk. You might see them in clusters tRibwort Plantain 3 headsthough or if left to grow year after year you’ll see bundles of them together.


The flowering stalks are often slightly furrowed and angular, ending in an oblong spike of small flowers, some have cluster heads 3 or more flowers on one stem. Ribwort Plantain

Horses don’t like to eat the flowers stems as they are quite stiff. You’ll see them most active from April through August, seeding into late August and September.

What parts Ribwort Plantain of can be eaten and what is it good for? 

Your horse will like the young leaves of Ribwort Plantain, but as they start to sprout flower stems they’ll stop eating them. Even when your horse stops eating the leaves, they still have natural benefits and can be used for helping heal wounds, it has a high antibacterial properties. If you pull a few leaves and added them into their haynets, they will enjoy munching away.

The seeds have extremely good benefits for worming your horse naturally, you can collect the seeds after they flower and add them into your horses hard feed, either break the seeds off by running your hand over the stem or use the seed pod fully. Seeds having a high mucilage content, are a good remedy against parasitic worms.

The root has benefits too, hopefully not needed in the UK, but useful in cases of rattlesnake bite.

Plantain can be used in an assortment of treatments for us also: diarrhea, gastritis, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, in cases of irritable bowel, against bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis and asthma in humans and horses.

Externally for both horses and us, decoction obtained from the leaves is used in cases of skin inflammations, cuts, stings and malignant ulcers. Take some of the leaves and soften them in hot water then blend or mash and apply to the area needed.

Distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.

Tea made from the seed is helpful in treatment of diarrhea, dysentery and bleedings of mucous membranes.

Ribwort Plantain is an excellent fly repellent, I’ve found it to be more successful than leading expensive fly sprays you can buy, keeping the flies away for longer. It also helps heal any fly bites they may have already before using Ribwort Plantain.  Again, just make it into a tea collect the plant in it’s whole, seeds too if you do it later in the season. Add boiling water to it, just cover the amount of plants in your tub/bowl. Wait for it to soften and cool, then sieve into a suitable bottle, I use old drinks bottles, but you can put into an old spray bottle.  I then pour the mixture onto a cloth making it quite wet and wipe the horses face and eyes with it and any other areas they need it.  Because I don’t use a shhhuuuss spray, I find the horses are more accepting being wiped with a cloth than having his hissing thing being sprayed over them.
Cautions: As with all herbs, if you are on prescribed medication please consult your GP/Doctor before taking additional herbs.

To your Horse Success!


Melanie Hetfield
Horse Whisperer, Trainer and ​​Instructor​

Visiting Margate, Ramsgate, Birchington, Herne Bay or live here and have kids? Come and join in the Kiddy Pony Clinic and let your children experience the wonder of horses.  More here.. Kiddy Pony Clinic


One thought on “Ribwort Plantain, is it growing in your paddock?

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