Tag Archives: burdock

Burdock

Burdock: The Edible Velcro

Burdock (Arctium spp.) relates to the daisy family. Additionally, it is directly related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Back in the past the Greeks made use of the greens and the roots for healing. During the Middle Ages, Burdock was used for food and medicine.

Also Known as

  • Burdock
  • Beggar’s Buttons
  • Cockle Buttons
  • Gobo
  • Harebur
  • Love Leaves
  • Thorny Bur

 


 

Identification Keys

  • Stalk
    • Purplish-green leaf stalks
    • Arctium minus – Common burdock’s leaf stalks:
      • hollow, not furrowed
      • 50-150 cm tall
    • Arctium lappa – Greater burdock’s leaf stalks:
      • solid, with a groove along the upper surface
      • up to 250 cm tall
  • Greater-Burdock_Arctium-Lappa-__16288
    (Photo credit: Public Domain Photos)

    Leaves

    • basal rosette the first year and at the beginning of the second year with coarse, huge, wedge-shaped leaves up to 60 cm long and 30 cm broad.
    • The leaves are whitish and finely wooly underneath
    • Its alternate leaves are similar to the basal leaves, but smaller, especially toward the top

 

 

  • English: Greater burdock (Arctium lappa) Deuts...
    Greater burdock (Arctium lappa) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Flowers

    • bristly, purple-pink, spherical, composite shaving brush-like flowers
    • 2 cm across in common burdock, short stemmed
    • 2.5 to 4 cm across in greater burdock, long-stemmed resemble shaving brushes
  • Fruits
    • The ripe fruits consist of brown, prickly spherical burrs the size of the flowers, covered with tiny hooks
    • They stick to virtually anything they touch, they’re the inspiration for Velcro
    • Inside are many small, hard, curved, brown seeds

 

Bloom Time

  • July-October

Habitat

  • lawns
  • fields
  • thickets
  • disturbed habitats
  • untended gardens
  • empty lots
  • edge habitats
  • trailsides and roadsides
  • parks
  • sun or partial shade
  • backyards

Look-alikes

  • “Dock” stands for take or eliminate, and not related plants that folks remove from their backyards, including the curly dock, also known as yellow dock (Rumex crispus), which has delicious leaves and stems, have the identical confusing surname. But you can’t confuse with burdock because curly dock has narrow leaves, not white beneath, with curled edges, a hard, yellow taproot, and different flowers and seeds.
  • Curly dock’s relative bitter dock or broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolia) has large leaves that look like burdock’s, and the plants occasionally grow next to each other, but as a relative of yellow dock, bitter dock’s hard, inedible taproot is vivid yellow when scraped, and the leaves don’t possess burdock’s white, whooly fuzz underneath. Even if nonpoisonous, every part of the plant tastes bad.
  • Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is an edible relative of burdock.

Poisonous Look-alikes

  • Cocklebur (Xanthium)

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

root, leaf

Actions

detoxifying

Systems

Digestion

  • eases liver problems and digestive disorders

Circulation

  • a decoction made by boiling the root is a blood detoxifier for the skin, liver, and kidneys.
  • Burdock helps combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions due to a large quantities of inulin, a polysaccharide that doesn’t get absorbed or induce an insulin response

Immune system

  • strengths the immune system when it’s weakened by environmental factors

Externally

  • use a poultice to clear bruises. Bandage for few days with a poultice made by blending the leaves with water and clay. Add spearmint stems to make this poultice even more effective.
  • put the leaves on burns to prevent bacterial growth, speed recovery time, and ease the changing of dressings.


Food Uses

Parts Used

roots, stems

Main Uses

potherb, root, tea

Nutrition

  • Burdock root supplies vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and sodium
  • It is really an excellent supply of inulin,  and is helpful to people with blood sugar problems

Caution

  • Avoid eating the seeds, which are poisonous.

Cooking

  • Root:
    • Burdock root seems like a blend of potatoes and artichokes.
    • Scrub the taproot under flowing water to clean it. Cut thin, so the root will become softer.
    • Raw, it’s hard to digest but not toxic. Simmer or steam 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. It’s also possible to bake it inside a covered baking dish that has a minimum of liquid, so that the hot steam tenders it.
  • Stem and Stalk:
    • It tastes like artichoke hearts.
    • Peel the fibers from the stems and flower stalks. Slice, then boil 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Leaf:
    • The leaves are really bitter. You can boil the very young leaves in multiple changes of water to reduce the bitterness, however, you can make a better use of your energy and time by harvesting other wild greens.

Harvesting

Harvesting Season

  • spring: root of 1st year plant, root of 2nd year plant (before the flower stalk appears), leaf stalks of greater burdock
  • mid-spring: stem
  • summer: root of 1st year plant, leaf stalks of greater burdock
  • fall: root of 1st year plant, leaf stalks of greater burdock

Harvesting Methods

  • Root:
    • Burdock’s taproot is very deep. Collect in a place that’s relatively free of rocks (not hard to find, since burdock is so common) and with a moist soil. Put the shovel 2 cm from the heart of the rosette. Grasp the handle strongly with both your hands. Over and over again stomp on the shovel, to push it straight down, so you don’t cut the root. You can try to push upward using the shovel while carefully pulling the leaves. If it’s not moving, don’t pull the leaves too hard, but remove the soil and do it again on the other side of the plant. When you’ve finished, refill the hole with soil, so you’ll reduce any environmental impact.
  • Stem:
    • Cut off the stem with a knife soon after it appears in mid-spring, when it’s large, but still very soft and flexible, long before the flowers appear.
  • Stalk:
    • Cut off the leaf stalks with a knife any time during the growing season, but only use greater burdock. There’s not enough food in common burdock’s stalks to make it worthwhile.