Burdock Root


Burdock plants, Arctium, have large, heart-shaped leaves and produce purple flowers in clusters. The flowers develop into burrs, which have hooked spines that stick to clothing and animal fur. The root is long, brown, and fleshy, and is the part most commonly used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Burdock Root in Historical Fiction

The Burdock is mentioned in several of Shakespeare’s plays as in Tolstoy’s writings as well as other authors of historical fiction who describe the use of Burdock to treat various ailments.

The Burdock Plant

The Burdock plant is native to Europe and Asia but is now found Worldwide.

Burdock is a genus of biennial plants, Arctium, belonging to the Asteraceae family, which includes several species known for their large, broad leaves and spiky seed heads. Common species include Arctium lappa (Greater Burdock) and Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock).

The burdock is also known by many other names, most having to do with the characteristics of the seeds or traditional herbal uses; beggar’s buttons, love leaves, clot-bur.

The Burdock in appearance is sometimes confused with cockle burr or even rhubarb, both members of the same family of plants, as is the Artichoke. Dark green leaves shaped like hearts or large ovals often up to twenty eight inches in length jut from the hollow stems that can reach over a yard in length.

The burdock flowers from June until October, turn into green or silver buds and purple blooms. After blooming, the seeds are enclosed inside the burr, which is equipped with sharp hooks. After the burrs are dispersed, the plant dies down.

The roots of the burdock are dark brown, gray or even black in appearance. The undersides of the leaves are covered with a downy like fuzz and can pose allergy problems for those allergic to marigolds and ragweed.

Culinary use of Burdock

In the United States, many people may be surprised at the thought of eating the Burdock plant (Arctium lappa). However, in many countries across the globe, the Burdock plant is widely used as a food source and also for its medicinal properties.

In many parts of Asia, young burdock roots, flower stems and even very young leaves are consumed eagerly. The long thin root of the burdock is only a few centimeters wide but can reach over a meter in length are crisp and the taste is mild. They are best after thinly sliced and soaked in water to remove any bitter taste.

In the United Kingdom, it is combined with Dandelion to make traditional soft drink called Dandelion and Burdock.

Burdock Health Benefits

Herbalists and others have long known that burdock is often used as a dietary aid to help cure different ailments such as sore throats, colds, blood purifiers, to combat hair loss and dandruff, to name a few. It also increases the flow of urine and is used as a tonic in mild doses and will increase sweating to remove toxins from the body. There have also been studies that the fiber of the burdock is a good aid to digestion.

Traditionally, the use of burdock as a medicine in China included the treatment of skin disorders, cleansing of the blood, as an effective treatment of impotence and barrenness in women. The use of the burdock root in Russia and India has also included treatment of certain types of cancer. The burdock is also a plant used in the treatment of burns, as it reduces pain and promotes healing.

Which parts of Burdock are used medicinally

In herbal medicine, various parts of the burdock plant are used for medicinal purposes. The key medicinal parts of burdock include the root, seeds, and occasionally the leaves.

Here’s a breakdown of how each part is typically used:

Burdock Root
Primary Medicinal Part: The root is the most commonly used and well-known medicinal part of the burdock plant.
Traditional Uses: Burdock root is valued for its potential diuretic, detoxifying, and blood-purifying properties. It has been used traditionally for skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as for supporting liver health and promoting digestion.
Preparation: Burdock root can be consumed as a tea, tincture, or decoction. It is also used as an ingredient in herbal formulations and traditional recipes.

Burdock Seeds
Medicinal Use: The seeds of burdock are less commonly used than the root but are still valued in herbal medicine.
Traditional Uses: Burdock seeds are sometimes used for their potential diuretic effects. They have been historically employed to support kidney and urinary system function.
Preparation: Burdock seeds can be consumed in various forms, such as tinctures or powdered preparations.

Burdock Leaves
Limited Use: While the root is the primary focus in herbal medicine, some herbalists may use the leaves on occasion.
Traditional Uses: The leaves are less commonly used than the root but may be employed in formulations targeting skin conditions. They are sometimes used topically for issues like acne or as a poultice for skin irritations.
Preparation: Leaves may be used in teas or as part of external applications.

Burdock inspired the invention of Velcro

In the early 1940’s, a Swiss inventor, George de Mestral was hiking with his dog and became intrigued by the burrs that clung tenaciously to his clothing and the dog’s fur. The interaction of the sharp hooks of the burdock and loops of thread in his clothes inspired him to invent Velcro!

Where to Buy Burdock


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Burdock Notes / Side Effects

Burdock is generally considered safe when used appropriately, but it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications.

The roots and leaves of nightshade which are poisonous if ingested, as are the leaves of the rhubarb plant. Both are members of the same family of plants as the Burdock. It is therefore that you make sure that the parts of the burdock plant you are using are from a reputable source which has an excellent reputation of delivering high quality plants for use.

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