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Burdock (Arctium lappa and Arctium minor) is easily recognizable, especially in the fall when the burrs are out and sticking to everything that walks by.

In the early spring, you’ll find this biennial plant as large wavy green leaves that are woolly and silvery underneath. The leaves can get quite large, up to a foot wide and 2 feet long. Be careful to distinguish from rhubarb leaves, which are a cultivated (non-wild) plant, but are poisonous.

Burdock grows mostly on roadsides, vacant lots, any disturbed area across North America, though Burdock is originally from Europe and Asia.


The roots, flower stalk and leaf stalks are edible.

As a wild edible plant, burdock roots and stem are eaten. The long leaf stems and early spring flower stalks are peeled and eaten like celery, while the long taproots are dug in the early spring or late fall from plants that have not yet sent up their flower stalk; once the flower stalk goes up and seeds (burrs) are formed, the life cycle of that plant is over and the root would be of no use.



In western herbal medicine, the roots are used as a tea or tincture to cleanse the liver, purify the blood and especially for clearing the skin. It’s benefits to the skin are widespread: treating acne, eczema, herpes, wounds, ulcers, even conditions of scalp and hair, including baldness. The leaves are often used as a poultice to treat bruises, burns and joint swellings.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Burdock seeds of Arctium lappa are called Niu Bang Zi and are used to clear Wind-Heat from the throat, for symptoms such as fever, cough and a sore, red, swollen throat. It is also used to clear heat and toxicity from any red swelling, even in cases of rashes, measles and mumps. It will also moisten the intestine when constipation is present.

For More information on Burdock, make sure you sign up for our newsletter, and you will receive an entire ebook full of information about Burdock, complete with color pictures and recipes.

Melissa’s Natural News Articles on Burdock:

Wild Burdock Root Cleanses Blood, Clears Acne and Speeds Weight Loss

Burdock Provides Nourishment and Natural Healing

Some Blog Posts About Burdock (includes pictures!):

Fermented Vegetables with Burdock

Making Burdock Root Tincture

Burdock, The Finest Blood Cleanser

All our pages and posts about Burdock. (It will start with this page, just scroll down to see the rest.)

  • Malissa Smith72

    I have recently been diagnosed with RA along with already being over weight and high cholestorol. I am taking more meds than I like and have read enough to know they are very hard on my liver. I came upon your sight researching burdock root, but as the woman said having trouble finding it. I see lots of sights you can order capulses, but after reading above about what times it is not good anymore, I am not feeling confident about taking it that way. could you please advise me of a way to get this and get the best medicinal use of it. Thank you.

  • SaraDare

    I've recently gotten interested in macrobiotics, and burdock is used quite a bit. I haven't been successful finding it in stores...I had no idea I might find it wild in my backyard. I will be on the lookout for it. Thanks!

  • Marge Griswold-Scheiding

    Hi, everybody! I hope 2012 is off to a fabulous start for everyone!

    Got a quick question: for Christmas I received a juicer and wonder how well wild edibles work with juicers? Which wildfoods work best and which are best avoided as juicing possibilities?


    Marge G-S

  • Hi Marge,
    What kind of juicer? Some juice greens better than others. Burdock root and japanese knotweed stalks juice great in most juicers, I mix them both with juiced apples (and for the burdock I also add lemon and ginger.) Wild fruits like crabapples, apples, etc juice well, though you may want to cut the seeds out first because they contain trace amounts of cyanide (or is it arsenic? it's the same as commercial apples, pears, cherries.)
    It'll be nice to hear if anyone else has other ideas!
    ~ Melissa

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