Minutina is one of my new favourite edible perennials! It is apparently more popular and more widely known in Italy. Its latin name is Plantago coronopus.
It is also known as Erba Stella and Bucks Horn Plantain. It is related to the plantains, such as Ribwort plantain and Greater Plantain. The wild plantains are also edible.
“The species are considered highly nutritious, containing vitamins A, B, C and K, calcium, fibre, fat, protein, silicon, sodium, zinc, tannin and mucilage.2 The nutty-flavoured seeds are also considered a good source of protein.”
Presumably, Minutina is also pretty nutritious. What I love about it is it self seeds but is easily controlled. It’s pretty hardy, although this winter has seen off a few of my plants as we had -6 degrees C for several nights running in February.
You can eat the young leaves in salads as a subtle tasting element in a salad mix, (like a sweet, nutty mixture of parsley, spinach and kale). You can eat the more mature leaves cooked, a bit like spinach. You just pick a few leaves from each plant. They will keep producing all summer, stay green in winter when you can pick a few leaves too – although the growth will slow down.
Minutina is small, hence the name, so grow lots! Maybe 10 plants if you want to eat it regularly. The Italian name Erba Stella translates to star grass. It would fit well within a forest garden environment because it self seeds easily and is so hardy. It enjoys some sun but can grow in partial shade. Feed with some fresh compost every year to increase the size and lusciousness of the leaves.