/plan"tin, -tn/, n.
1. a tropical plant, Musa paradisiaca, of the banana family, resembling the banana.
2. its fruit, eaten cooked as a staple food in tropical regions.
[1545-55; earlier pla(n)tan < Sp plá(n)tano plantain, also plane tree < ML pla(n)tanus, L platanus PLANE3]
/plan"tin, -tn/, n.
any plant of the genus Plantago, esp. P. major, a weed with large, spreading leaves close to the ground and long, slender spikes of small flowers.
[1350-1400; ME plauntein < OF plantein < L plantagin- (s. of plantago), deriv. of planta sole of the foot, lit., something flat and spread out, like the broad leaf of the plantain; akin to Gk platýs FLAT1; see PLATY-]

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Any of about 265 species of familiar garden, lawn, and roadside weeds in the genus Plantago of the family Plantaginaceae.

Distinctively, the leaves lack a proper blade. What appears to be a blade is an expanded petiole (leafstalk), with several parallel main veins, emerging at the base of the stalk. Small flowers are borne in spikes or heads atop long leafless stalks. The greater plantain (P. major) provides seed spikes for bird food. Ribwort, or English, plantain (P. lanceolata) and hoary plantain (P. media) are troublesome weeds. Some species have been useful in medicine (e.g., as an ingredient in laxatives).
Tall plant (Musa paradisiaca) of the banana family that is closely related to the common banana (M. sapientum).

Believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, the plantain grows 10–33 ft (3–10 m) tall and has a conical false "trunk" formed by the leaf sheaths of its spirally arranged, long, thin leaves. The green-coloured fruit is larger than that of the banana and contains more starch. Because the starch is maximal before the fruit ripens, the fruit is not eaten raw but is boiled or fried, often with coconut juice or sugar as flavouring. It may also be dried for later use in cooking or ground for use as meal, which can be further refined to a flour. The plantain is a staple food and beer-making crop for East African peoples and is also eaten in the Caribbean and Latin America.

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      (Musa paradisiaca), plant of the banana (q.v.) family (Musaceae) closely related to the common banana (M. sapientum). The plantain is a tall plant (3–10 metres [10–33 feet]) with a conical false “trunk” formed by the leaf sheaths of its spirally arranged leaves, which are 1.5 to 3 m long and about 0.5 m wide. The fruit, which is green, is typically larger than the common banana. The botanical classification of plantains and bananas is so complicated that plantain is variously viewed as a subspecies of the banana, and the banana as a subspecies of plantain.

      The edible fruit of the plantain has more starch than the banana and is not eaten raw. Because plantain has a maximum of starch before it ripens, it is usually cooked green, either boiled or fried, often with coconut juice or sugar as a flavouring. It may also be dried for later use in cooking or ground for use as a meal. The plantain meal can be further refined to a flour. In some parts of East Africa the plantain is a staple food and beer-making crop, notably in central and eastern Uganda and Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika), and particularly in the area inhabited by the Chagga people.

      The plant is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. Two groups of plantains are thought to have a common origin: the horn plantain and the French plantain. Both types grow in India, Africa, Egypt, and tropical America. The French plantains also occur in Indonesia and the islands of the Pacific. Plantain is also a common name for plants of the genus Plantago (q.v.) of the order Scrophulariales.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Plantain — Plan tain, n. [Cf. F. plantain arbre, plantanier, Sp. pl[ a]ntano, pl[ a]tano; prob. same word as plane tree.] 1. (Bot.) A treelike perennial herb ({Musa paradisiaca}) of tropical regions, bearing immense leaves and large clusters of the fruits… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Plantain — Plan tain, n. [F., fr. L. plantago. Cf. {Plant}.] (Bot.) Any plant of the genus {Plantago}, but especially the {Plantago major}, a low herb with broad spreading radical leaves, and slender spikes of minute flowers. It is a native of Europe, but… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • plantain — PLANTAIN. s. m. Sorte de plante medicinale, dont les feüilles sont à peu prés de la figure d un fer de lance, & dont la tige est toute pleine de petite graine vers le haut. Il y a plusieurs sortes de plantain. grand plantain. petit plantain.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • plantain — Plantain, Plantago plantaginis, Arnaglossum, Polyneuron. Plantain aquatic, Alisma, Damasonium, Plantago aquatica …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • plantain — Ⅰ. plantain [1] ► NOUN ▪ a low growing plant, typically with a rosette of leaves and a slender green flower spike. ORIGIN Old French, from Latin planta sole of the foot (because of its broad leaves that grow along the ground). Ⅱ. plantain [2] ►… …   English terms dictionary

  • plantain — plantain1 [plan′tin] n. [OFr < L plantago < planta, sole of the foot (see PLANT): from the shape of the leaves] any of a genus (Plantago) of plants of the plantain family, usually with rosettes of basal leaves and spikes of tiny, greenish… …   English World dictionary

  • Plantain — Plantain, Inseln, so v.w. Bravos 1) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Plantain — This article is about the fruit. For the small herb, see Plantago. Plantain Plantains being sold. Details Hybrid parentage …   Wikipedia

  • plantain — 1. plantain [ plɑ̃tɛ̃ ] n. m. • XIIIe; lat. plantago ♦ Plante herbacée (plantaginacées) très commune, dont la semence sert à nourrir les oiseaux en cage. Grand plantain. Plantain d eau. ⇒ alisma. plantain 2. plantain [ plɑ̃tɛ̃ ] n. m. • 1803;… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Plantain — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Plantain (homonymie). Nom vernaculaire ou nom normalisé ambigu : Le terme « Plantain » s applique en français à plusieurs taxons distincts …   Wikipédia en Français

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