Greater (Arctium lappa) and lesser burdock (Arctium minus) is an easily recognisable large-leafed plant. It has been used for centuries in skin preparations to treat diseases and infection, and has other uses as a wild edible.
Arctium lappa and Arctium minus
Greater burdock grows up to 1-2 m bearing large, heart-shaped, dull green leaves with fine hairs. The flowers are globe-shaped and thistle-like, becoming bur-like seed heads.
Lesser burdock grows up to 1-1.5 m tall with longer heart-shaped, dark green leaves and prickly flowers varying from pink to lavender in colour.
Scrubs, woodlands, roadsides, fields and wastelands.
Parts Used For Food
Largely the roots, but also the leaves and stalk.
Summer to autumn.
A comprehensive 52 page notebook covering the folklore, food and medicine of Burdock (Arctium spp.). It also comes with full colour high resolution photos to help make identification easy … and is delivered to your inbox as a PDF.
Roots can be eaten cooked as a boiled or fried vegetable. It is more common in Asian cooking in Japan and China. The leaves and stalk can also be used as a wild edible salad vegetable.REF
Contains vitamin C as one of its most valued nutrients.REF
Traditional Medicine Uses
Primarily used as a blood purifier and as a herbal remedy for skin diseases and infections.REF
The large heart-shaped leaves were used as masks by actors in Ancient Greece. The prickly burs helped to inspire the invention of velcro.
May cause contact dermatitis in some. The plant is best avoided in pregnancy due to oestrogenic effects. Burdock may also interfere with some medications.REF