All about common burdock

Burdock is a plant that is commonly found in waste places and along roadsides. It is common enough in England, Europe, Asia and North America that it is probable that a majority of people who live in these regions have seen it, even if they didn’t know what it was. It is used both as food and as a medicinal herb, too. This is also a plant with many common names, including Lappa, beggar’s buttons, clot bur, fox clot, happy major, philanthopium, cockle buttons, thorny bur and others.

Growing traits

This wild herb is a biennial that grows from a rather carrot-like root that can grow bit less than 2 inches in diameter in healthy plants, tapering to a point about two feet or more below the soil’s surface. The plant is both drought and cold hardy, though it doesn’t grow rapidly, as a rule. 


Arctium lappa is a plant that grows up to 4 feet or more in height. The lower leaves are somewhat heart-shaped and up to a foot in length, while upper leaves are smaller and have more of an oval shape. The color of the leaves is light yellowish green and the undersides have fine hairs that give the leaf bottoms a silvery or whitish appearance. The flowers are rich purple and of a form common to thistles. Blooming normally occurs from July to September, depending on growing conditions and altitude. This plant produces fruit that has bracts that curve backward, forming a bur and allowing it to stick to animal fur or clothing quite easily. The seeds found inside the burs are dicotyledons. 


Burdock has become naturalized in many areas and is often considered to be an invasive weed. The range is large and the plant occurs in England, Europe, Asia and in North America. Since this wild herb is drought as well as cold hardy, it can also withstand high summertime temperatures, which allows it to thrive in a variety of locations. Typically, it is found growing in waste places, abandoned lots, along fence rows and beside roads. Though it will grow in nutrient poor soil, it prefers areas that have ground that drains well. The plants also grow from sea level to several thousand feet, if the growing conditions are favorable.

Plant associations

This is a plant that is closely related to thistles, sometimes being considered to be a kind of thistle, and it is in the Aster family: Asteraceae. 


A useful wild herb, burdock is usually classed as both a medicinal plant and also a food plant. The roots are commonly eaten in many parts of the world, especially in Asia. Though it can be cultivated, this proves to be unnecessary throughout much of its range, since it can be locally abundant. Where it is cultivated, harvests of a half U.S. ton of roots aren’t uncommon. The root is the part that is most often eaten, however because of the shape of the root and its length, it can be difficult to extract. Still, they have been known known about and used for a very long time. In fact, burdock was mentioned in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Burdock is a well known plant that has been known, collected and used for a very long time. It is quite widespread, common in many places and identification isn’t difficult. This is a wild herb that can be considered as one of the most useful and there is little doubt that a lot of people already think of it this way.