Not in Your Grocery Store #3: Minutina (aka Erba Stella, Buck’s-horn Plantain) – Food Biodiversity

Minutina is one of a number of rare crops that we grow in our garden
that you probably won’t find in your local grocery store.
It’s cold hardy enough to survive winters here in zone 5 under 2 layers of protection,
but also heat tolerant enough to be thriving here in mid-summer.
I’m always looking for plants that will help us extend our growing season,
and that’s really what initially piqued my interest in minutina.
Minutina is an herbaceous flowering plant
that produces a rosette of toothed narrow leaves that grow to about 10 inches (25 cm) long.
It’s also known as Erba Stella, which means star herb,
and Buck’s Horn Plantain, because its leaves resemble deer antlers. I
Its scientific name is plantago coronopus.
This plant is just starting to go to flower
and will eventually have small flowers along the end of this stem.
It grows wild in sandy soils near the sea and is native to Eurasia and North Africa.
It has been grown in the U.S. since colonial times and was then used as a medicinal plant that was
believed to lower fevers and treat other ailments.
Minutina is perennial in some climates,
so I’m curious to see if it will grow as a perennial here
if I’m able to keep it alive under protection this winter.
Minutina is rare enough that I had a hard time finding information on its nutritional content.
I found a couple articles describing it as nutritious, but couldn’t find specifics.
We purchased our minutina seeds from Bountiful Gardens
and started the tiny seeds in pots outdoors in early spring.
When the plants were large enough to transplant,
we moved them to this bed of edible perennials,
which gets about 5 hours of direct sun per day.
They thrive in cool rainy weather, which is exactly what we had in May and June.
Minutina can be planted from spring through winter,
and I’m planting more seeds today in hopes of growing a few more plants this winter
in our soon-to-be-built hoop house.
I’ll also let our existing plants go to seed and self-sow.
Then I’ll transplant some of the self-sown plants to new locations in the garden.
Minutina leaves are best eaten when they’re young, crunchy, and succulent.
They toughen up and lose some of their flavor when the flower stalk appears.
Young leaves are great raw in salads, but are also good cooked in soups, pasta, and stir fries.
They’re not bitter like some greens and they have a somewhat nutty flavor.
The flowers are also edible,
though we haven’t tried them yet.
Minutina is harvested using a cut and come again approach.
Just pinch off leaves at the base of the plant and new leaves will continue to grow.
So far, we’ve only eaten minutina raw, but now that the leaves are toughening up,
I thought I’d sautee some with garlic and olive to see how they taste.
The older leaves are definitely chewier, but they do work well when cooked.
I really like this.
As I mentioned earlier, it was minutina’s cold hardiness that first drew our attention.
Eliot Coleman grows in during the winter in Maine in unheated greenhouses,
and we want to do something similar here,
growing it in cold frames inside a hoop house.
along with other cold hardy crops like mache and claytonia.
I hope you enjoyed this closer look at one of the rare crops we grow
that you probably won’t find in your local grocery store.
The more rare crops we all grow, the better we increase the genetic diversity of our food supply.
Well, that’s all for now.
Thank you very much for watching,
and until next time remember
you can change the world one yard at a time.

35 thoughts on “Not in Your Grocery Store #3: Minutina (aka Erba Stella, Buck’s-horn Plantain) – Food Biodiversity

  1. I bet it has benifical nutrents . I believe the more diverse our diets are the better. Where did you find the seeds?

  2. a little off-topic but i noticed a no-shoes shot in today's video. i'm strictly no-shoes and wonder what kind of mulch you're using and how that feels.

    btw: your do-nothing-gardening keeps me pushing onward and i'm finding year 3 is starting to bring noticeable results 🙂

  3. Great episode Patrick.  so a little off topic but I keep noticing the variance in Kale plant sizes in your garden; is this due to more mature plants vs. younger plants or better locations with more direct sunlight?

  4. Thank you Patrick. Another nice video and information on edibles.  I always look forward to your videos.  :0)

  5. Hi Patrick! Your garden is beautiful , I love these jungles . Thanks for the many helpful tips . You gave us advice on how to snails… . What is your advice to ants ? Thanks for the reply ! Fransis

  6. Thanks for the information Patrick. I am anxious to see how they do in your garden as I am planting perennials in zone 6b.

  7. Good afternoon Patrick I was wondering if I could maybe get some ideas from you on how if you had my front yard garden how you would make it better and what kind of improvements would be best for what I have here in zone 7. I have some older videos on my channel of what I did so far this year. I will make a new one for this request I am sending to you today I will make it in the am when its a bit cooler. I also would like to say :
    I am so grateful to you and the others I have subscribed to in that you guys always inspire me and help me along my journey as a sister gardener. Thanks so much for all you lovely fellow and sister gardeners great videos. Peace and have a wonderful weekend.

  8. I've not come across this one before – thanks for sharing. Often cold loving plants don't like our humid summers (like that healthy looking artichoke you have). I might have to look this one up though as it sounds like it might cope. Any green I can grow through summer is worth looking into. Thanks Patrick, your garden looks so much bigger in summer than in winter.

  9. Super great episode and glad to see you opening peoples eyes about eating things not found in stores. Purslane is a new found love for us. We seeded it so we could taste the wild vs. cultivated and I must say the wild has a much saltier cactus flavor. We add it to everything!

  10. Thanks for the look Patrick. Have seen it for sale through my favourite seed vendor so was great to see your opinion of it. Might just have to give it a shot 🙂 
    Cheers sir.

  11. Really enjoying this series Patrick – thanks for sharing!

    Do you have recommendations for establishing a high density self-sowing bed like yours? I imagine growing dense requires careful balance ..any particular companion plant dos/don'ts?

  12. Your series on more diverse crops has been great! There is so much diversity in plants that can provide great food, especially greens! The lance-leaved plantain that I eat wild has a mushroom flavor and doesn't get bitter. It finally just gets too tough to bother with. So it's interesting to hear about the flavor and behavior of a domestic cousin. Thanks!

  13. thanks for sharing these videos… they are very helpful for trying new plants or expanding my gardening food sources while increasing my health benefits from food, i am very happy to learn new or better things about these things… thanks again and maybe next year i will get to travel to meet great gardeners, like you, and see their great gardens as well so i can share and learn more about them… william.

  14. Another awesome unique variety. Finally starting my garden this fall, and using as many of your organic recommendations as possible. First up…. Inoculated winter cover crops to build the nitrogen level and microbial population. Thank you so much for all the hard work putting out all this amazing information!

  15. Now that is really interesting Patrick. I love how crunchy it was still after cooking. Your garden looks great. And what an interesting plant.

  16. Someday when I get a bigger garden I will try some of your ideas. Your garden certainly has grown, leaning on a jungle look.

    Thanks for sharing  Patrick

  17. Very interesting plant, I just checked and Johnny's selected seeds has it, I've put it in my wish list for next year…thanks Patrick!

  18. Have you ever come across Turkish rocket Patrick? It has a reputation on the Continent as it can be invasive if allowed to seed and has caused problems in Sweden and other places but it's known to be a good green food. I collected more brewery grains today and busy mixing in with leaves. Am on the look out for more pallets now to make more heaps with. I sometimes wonder if I prefer making compost to growing plants!

  19. That's too bad. It looks like something I would like. When h started the tomatoes last week I also prepped 2 types of seed potatoes and the eyes are beginning to grow. Yesterday I started the sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes won't go in the ground till May, but the white potatoes go in mid Feb to March 1.

  20. Hi Patrick, I love this series, especially since I get bored with the same o same o at the grocery stores. I saw in one of the comments where I can buy this. Before I do, just curious about how well it over wintered and whether or not you are still growing it 2 years later?

    On an unrelated subject, do you ever grow cover crops in your beds and if so can they be grown along with the regular plants or do they need to be grown by themselves? I hear they are suppose to be good for the soil.

    As always, a very appreciative thank you for your responses and mentoring. Now I’m off to try and find the videos you made on starting the vegetables from seed indoors under grow lights. I think that was a series too that I thoroughly enjoyed. Wish me luck. LOLs.

  21. today i ate some minutina in a salad mixed with chives, really great plant to have. i actually took some leaves from plants planted last year, that surprisingly survived winter without any cover (only snow), which i didn't expect because it is said to be hardy to around -12°C, but here where i live winters are usually around -15° and colder – this winter it went down to -20°C. but with the warm weather in spring the plants started growing again. and the ten plants also gave me a few thousand seeds, so i planted extra this spring.

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