Ribwort Plantain Shoot Em Up

ribwortplantainthumb.jpgBack when I was a young lad, we didn't have computers, video games or the Internet

Instead, we had to play in a shared multiplayer fully-immersive actual-reality environment called 'outdoors'. Here's one of the things we used to do.


Ribwort Plantain

Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a very common plant of grassy places such as fields, roadsides and gardens. It forms a rosette of strap-like leaves, from which wiry, ridged stalks arise, bearing green/brown cone-like compound flower heads, surrounded by a halo of tiny cream-coloured bracts, held on hair-thin stalks that allow them to quiver in even the slightest breeze.

Because of the brownish colour of the inflorescence, it's easy to dismiss this plant as unattractive - but take a closer look - it's really rather beautiful in its own way.


Shooting Ribwort Plantain

ribwortplaintain2.jpgPick a long stalk - tough-stemmed ones with short, fat inflorescences work best.

Hold with the flower pointing away from you, then bring the base end of the stalk around and fold it in a loop just below the flower.

ribwortplaintain3.jpgGrasp the stalks firmly in both hands and pull the loop upwards to the neck of the inflorescence.

The stalks are slightly elastic; hopefully, the stalk will snap just below the flower and it will be catapulted forward up to a dozen feet.


ribwortplaintain4.jpgNormally, the picking of wild flowers is not really recommended, however, Ribwort Plantain reproduces quite prolifically - there's very little risk of this species being driven to extinction by kids playing this game - and anyway, by the time they're ready for ballistic use, they already contain some viable seeds, so maybe you'd actually be helping.



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1. On Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 20:52 by simon

we did that as kids, and we used pedelars corn as darts

2. On Thursday, August 23, 2012, 12:24 by Katka

Hey, in my country (Slovakia) we used to play this way too... Is it all-european game?

3. On Thursday, September 13, 2012, 18:01 by beamoburbank

Definitely NOT strictly a European game--my Daddy from Oklahoma USA taught me that when I was a kid 60 years ago

4. On Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 18:46 by Daniel

Further down south America we play with these as well...and I'm talking about 10, 15 years ago. It's more universal than you'd think.

5. On Friday, November 9, 2012, 17:01 by steve

Obviously this was brought by settlers to New Zealand too!Good cheap, harmless fun.;

6. On Saturday, October 26, 2013, 10:49 by Bob C.

I too grew up before the Internet and personal computers and did the very same thing with this plant but never knew its name.Perhaps an even scarier coincidence, I have and wear a floppy brimmed hat as well!Great site I shall be spending time here, tha

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