Burdock

About Burdock
  • Latin Name: Arctium lappa
  • Other Common Names: Bardana, Beggar’s buttons, clotbur, edible burdock, Fructus arctii, great bur, great burdocks, lappa, cockle button, hurr- burr, stick-button and Niu Bang Zi (Chinese).
  • Native Origin: Burdock is native to Europe and northern Asia but several species have been introduced and naturalized worldwide such as in the United States.
  • Folk lore:
  • In parts of Europe, Burdock was thought to determine if a love was true. If you throw a burr at your love and it sticks, your lover was true. If the burr fell off, it meant their affection would not be reciprocated.
  • In Edinburgh, there is a traditional Burryman Parade that has gone on for centuries. Though the origin of the parade is unclear, given Burdock’s spiritual connection to the Underworld, it was believed it would keep negative energy and evil spirits away. He was declared a symbol of regeneration, rebirth and fertility, similar to the Green Man. The chosen Burryman would suit up from head to toe in burrs and even flowers, and parade through the street, receiving whiskey through a straw from people watching the parade.
  • Burdock was the inspiration for Velcro. It is said that 1940s George de Mestral, the Swiss inventor of Velero, got the idea after examining the fruit of a bur dock plant that had stuck to his 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 realized that the same approach could be used to join other things together. The result was Velcro.
  • Sources:
  • “Burdock: Arctium Lappa.” Rose & Ritual Apothecary, http://www.roseritual.com/burdock.
  • Legacy, Herbal. History of Burdock, http://www.herballegacy.com/Loftis_History.html.
  • Medicinal/edible:
  • In traditional medicine, the fruits, seeds, roots, and leaves of burdock have been used as extracts or teas for a wide range of ailments including colds, gout, rheumatism, stomach ailments, and cancers, and to promote urination, increase sweating, and facilitate bowel movements. It has also been promoted to increase sexual desire, and used for various skin problems. Burdock root is commonly used as food in Asia. Some US health stores carry fresh burdock root for sale as a food and nutraceutical.
  • Source: “Burdock Uses, Benefits & Side Effects – Drugs.com Herbal Database.” Drugs.com, http://www.drugs.com/npc/burdock.html.
  • Conservation status: Not Extinct.
  • Burdock is one of the United States most common weeds introduced from the Old World. It can be found along roadsides and in fields, pastures, and generally nutrient- poor soil content areas. It is most abundant in the Eastern and Central States.
  • Source: Burdock, hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/HerbHunters/burdock.html.

Delightful, a breath of morning air in my home.

— annonymous collector

Kristin’s story about the plant here.

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Published by kristinMroach

Hi! I am an artist, author, and owner of a modern apothecary called Little Woods in Ames, Iowa.