Botanical Name: Arctium lappa

Family:  Compositae

Common Names: beggars buttons

Burdock flowers and burrsBURDOCK is a multi faceted gift, great for food and amazing medicine and helpful in various crafty ways.  In fact Burdock burs which we’ve all had annoying experiences with were the inspiration for the development of velcro. After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog’s fur. Under a microscope, he looked closely at the hook-and-loop system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals aiding seed dispersal, and he realised that the same approach could be used to join other things together. The result was velcro.


Burdock, 2nd year plant getting ready to shoot up it’s seed stalk

Chippy and Skipper helping out as I dig Burdock roots!




Burdock is a biennial plant.  The first year the plant is identified by it’s basal leaves, sometimes getting enormous in size.  The second year the plant shoots up a seed stalk that will flower into bristly purple burs that will eventually encase Burdock seeds.

  • Leaf: Coarse toothless, wedge heart shaped leaves, dense and wooly, white underside, thick veined
  • Stem: first year is slightly hairy but pliable, second year becomes woody and rigid and quite tall
  • Flower: purple flower, bristly burr with hooked tips dispersing seeds as they hitchhike unto passing animals or people to their new destination
  • Root: Long tap root


  • Leaf: Young first year leaves edible
  • Stem:First year stems or petioles are quite tasty boiled and eaten in casseroles or as green beans
  • Root: First year roots are best to harvest or 2nd year roots BEFORE the seed stalk develops
  • Flower: Early purple buds

Chopped Burdock Petioles!


Burdock grows where the earth’s skin has been disturbed, waste areas.  It is one of the first plants to make the scene when ground has been disturbed due to construction.


Wild Amaranth and Burdock Roots

Roots can be boiled, dried and powdered for nutrient additive.  I like stir frying them, marinating or pickling them, and love drying them for Winter soups and stews and bone broths.  I also like making a vinegar of the roots for cooking and salad dressings.  They also make a strong tea when decocted in simmering water for 20 minutes or till the water is halved.  Tastes rooty! but is very healing for the liver.  Can make Burdock Chai Tea a bit more tasty.

Stem pith is baked, boiled, eaten as a pickle or made into candy

Early leaves can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sauteed, and DRINK the cooking liquid for it’s nutrients

Young burrs can be steamed and eaten but I’ve never had the nerve to try this, nor have I been hungry enough to want to

Sweet and Sour Burdock Roots


Per 1/2 cup

Burdock is a true tonic!  It is high in vegetable protein.  Burdock contains inulin the chemical source of insulin

Protein: 2.5 g  Carbs 20.1 g, Fiber 1.7g, Calcium 50mg, Phosphorus 58mg, Potassium 180 mg, Iron 1.2mg, Niacin 300 ug, Thiamin 250ug


Drying in the dishwasher

Alterative, Diuretic, Diaphoretic, Bitter, Anti-psoriatic, Demulcent, Anti tumoral, Anti septic, Anodyne, Cell proliferant, Tonic

The seeds have the same actions but are also a nervine and work better in acute cases


1. Use the gigantic leaves as plates or carriers

2. My  neighbor JD picks up his dog Foscoe’s poops with Burdock leaves to keep our yards poop free!

3. Collect and dry Burdock leaves to use as bandages for burn patients.  they are an anodyne (pain reliever) and dulls pain, antiseptic and kill germs, cell proliferants and multiply new cell growth, and they won’t stick to the wound.  Here is an article on this amazing method for healing burns:


4. Can make a young leaf poultice (with Plantain, Peach and or Honeysuckle leaves) to bring BOILS to a head.

5. Blend Burdock leaf with egg whites or butter to ease the pain, promotes healing of burns also prevents infection or lightly steam the leaves and wrap onto the skin as a poultice.  This is especially effective for burns, and it will also draw out splinters, poisons, and pus.  Burdock poultices improve blood flow to the injured and infected area, fighting infection and speeding healing.

6. Burdock Seed tincture is fast acting when added to Echinacea tincture in treating colds and flu particularly with swollen glands or tonsils!

7. Being a Diuretic, Burdock helps the urinary tract.  Kidney and bladder infections, kidney stones.  See tincture taken 1/8 ounce dose every 2 weeks will prevent kidney stones Exercise to agitate the fluid in the kidnesy and facilitate the stones dissolving

8. Burdock is famous for its use for skin health: acne, boils, psoriasis, eczema.  Gets the liver detoxing so skin won’t have to

9. Burdock is one of the herbs in Essiac tea for cancer treatment

10. Include Burdock in any formula for treating severe degenerative conditions

Dried BURR stage, just waited to hook up with your dog…

11. Tops the list of the SUPER GOOD FOR YOU herbs!

12. Giant Burdock leaves make a handy umbrella in a pinch!

13. Simmer a handful of brown burs, strain and cool. Use this infusion to wash your pets and kill fleas quickly!

14. If you get the burs into your skin, use duct tape to pull them out.  Best to handle Burdock with gloves when working with the burrs and seeds!

15. Warning: Used alone, Burdock can expel many toxins through the skin. Combine it with a diuretic, like Dandelion, to safeguard against this reaction, and expel toxins through the urine instead.

16. Burdock is a blood-purifier, a Spring ronic, souse a decoction of the root to act on bile, kidneys and sweat glands and rid your body of toxins.



Jim Mcdonald is an herbalist that makes sense.  He is so down to earth and makes things so easy to understand and to do.  His articles on any topic are worth reading and learning from.  Here is his article on Burdock   http://www.herbcraft.org/burdock.html

Wildman Steve Brill has an amazing site on WILD plants.  He is a gourmet cook with weeds.  His plant monographs and wild recipes are fantastic!