- Found along open fields, trails, roadsides, and disturbed soils.
- Prolific spread and can be considered an invasive species due to its self-seeding.
- Common burdock is most common throughout US and southern Canada, with greater burdock growing more specifically in northern US states.
- Mature burdock may reach between 5–9 feet in height.
- Leaves are triangular with wavy edges and hairy underneath. Leaves get smaller as they reach the top of the flower stalk.
- Flowers are pink and purple tufts with bristles. These become seeds in the fall.
- Greater burdock is typically taller with larger leaves, and is usually preferred for consumption/cooking.
- Common burdock flower stalk has more branching than greater burdock.
- Greater burdock has deeper grooves in its leaves.
- Subspecies of burdock- woolly burdock can be differentiated by the flowerhead being covered in cobweb-like hairs.
- Greater burdock is considered the best for preparation and consumption.
- Edible parts: leaf stem, flower stalk, root.
- You can tell burdock is ready to harvest when its leaf has reached near its full size.
- cut the stem and peel off its outer layer to reveal a texture and taste similar to celery.
- The flower stalk carries a sweeter taste than the leaf stem.
- Harvesting for consumption should happen when it has reached near its full size, but before flower buds appear.
- Burdock root can be eaten and found being sold as a vegetable. In order to harvest use a trowel to dig a small hole along the root, as its roots can extend several feet.
- In order to eat, wash and peel the root. Cut into ovals or sticks- can be prepared similar to carrots. It is also common to stir fry this vegetable or eat raw.
- Burdock’s bitterness can be used to stimulate the digestive tract, and used as a laxative or diuretic.
- Through activating liver function burdock can help rid the body of toxins and lower blood sugar.
- Burdock can be eaten, boiled for tea, or turned into a tincture to treat chronic inflammation. This includes easing conditions such as rheumatism, psoriasis, and eczema.
- Burdock’s seeds can also be used medicinally for anti-inflammatory properties.
A Burdock — twitched my Gown -
Not Burdock’s blame — but mine
Who went too near the Burdock’s Den -
A Bog affronts my shoe .
What else have Bogs to do -
The only Trade they know —
The splashing men?
’Tis Minnows — should despise -
An Elephant’s calm eyes
Look further on!
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Burdock
- Seeds of Burdock used in TCM under name niu bang ziu.
- Medicinal herb used for sore throats and colds.
- Can be eaten as a vegetable or turned into a tincture.
- As a treatment for psoriasis and eczema, burdock root oil is applied to the scalp to reduce inflammation.
- Burdock was considered to be a protective charm against evil eye throughout Europe and Asia.
- In Germany it was hung above stable doors to protect cattle from curses.
- In astroherbalism, burdock is a Jupiter-ruled herb. Meaning it is meant to physically and spiritually ground our being. It represents stability, generosity, and nourishment.
- When used in the body to promote health and vitality, it is considered to give vigour on our own paths moving forward.