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Burdock

(Arctium spp.)

Other Names:

Bardana, Beggar's Buttons, Burr Seed, Clot Bur, Cockle Buttons, Cocklebur, Fox's Clote, Great Burr, Happy Major, Hardock, Hareburr, Lappa, Love Leaves,  Thorny Burr

Range:

Family:

Asteraceae - Aster Family (Dandelion subfamily)

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Burdock is a large biennial that reminds me of rhubarb.

Height:

Common Burdock grows 3 - 5 feet tall, while Great Burdock can grow to 4 - 9 feet tall.

Leaves:

The large, course, wavy edged leaves remind me of an elephant's ear. The leaves grow in a basal rosette, and can grow up to 2 feet long, and 1 foot wide. The undersides of the leaves are densely wooly.

Stem/Trunk:

The leaves grow on a single erect leaf stalk. The leaf stalk has a purple green hue. The stems of Great Burdock (Arctium lappa) are furrowed and resemble the shape of celery, while those of Common Burdock (Arctium minus) are hollow, and not furrowed. Both species are edible.

Root:

The width of the young burdock taproot is approximately the diameter of a pencil, but it is extremely long, often up to 4 feet in length. This is why it is so difficult for gardeners to eradicate it from their gardens. I find the irony of that interesting. The gardener plants a garden so he or she may grow edible nutritious vegetables, yet they work so hard to keep Burdock out. Burdock is highly nutritious, and quite palatable.

Flower:

Season:

Summer of second year.

Appearance:

The second year plant produces many purple flowers, and thistle like burs.

Seed/Fruit:

N/A

Miscellaneous characteristics:

N/A

Habitat:

Look for Burdock on disturbed soils of roadsides and waste areas.

Parts Used:

Young leaves, roots, young flower and leaf stalks,

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

Burdock is a highly nutritious plant with excellent medicinal qualities. The young leaves can be added to salads or boiled in several changes of water. The root of the first year plant can be eaten spring through autumn, and the root of the second year plant can be eaten in early spring before the flower stalk appears. Once the flower stalk appears, but has not yet produced a flower, it can be picked, peeled, and eaten. Young leaf and flower stalks are best when parboiled for a minute or so to remove the bitterness.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

Root tea used as a blood purifier, diuretic, stimulates bile secretion, digestion, sweating. It is also used for gout, liver and kidney ailments, rheumatism, and gonorrhea. The root contains high levels of inulin (up to 50 percent), which has traditionally been used to treat diabetes. Both flowers and leaves have antibacterial properties. A tea from the leaves and stems has been used to treat rheumatism, and tea mixed with brown sugar has been used to treat measles. The seeds are used as a diuretic.

Medicinal Actions:

Alterative, Antibacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, Antineoplastic, Antioxidant, Antiretroviral, Demulcent, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Cholagogue, Hepatic, Hypoglycemic

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield