Each of these definitions captures the troublesome nature of weeds:
1. A wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.
2. A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden.
3. A plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants
4. A valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.
But what if the “weed” has broad, boldly ribbed leaves (sound like a hosta?), subtle blooms from June to September, and is known to have medicinal properties? Kinda sounds like we should celebrate its ornamental value and healing qualities. The plant I just described is plantain (Plantago major). It thrives in compacted, disturbed soil, apparently like what remains of the lawn in my backyard.
I’m usually not in the mood to celebrate plantain; instead I’m more likely to take pleasure in ripping it out of my lawn and garden beds. But then I read about how it was once honored as a medicinal herb. In the Middle Ages it could be found by the side of the road—even then they had disturbed, compacted soil—and was used as a balm for sore feet. The Website http://www.herbalencounter.com/, says that to keep the feet free from blisters on long walks, put some leaves in your shoes. (The name comes from planta, Latin for the sole of the foot.)