name = Burdock

image_width = 250px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Asterales
familia = Asteraceae
tribus = Cynareaecite web | url = http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=20706 | title = tribe Cynareae | work = Flora of North America | accessdate = 2008-01-04 ]
genus = "Arctium"
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision =
*"A. lappa"
*"A. minus"
*"A. minus nemorosum"
*"A. pubens"
*"A. tomentosum"

Burdock is any of a group of biennial thistles in the genus "Arctium", family Asteraceae. Native to the Old World, several species have been widely introduced worldwide.cite web | url = http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=102484 | title = Arctium | work = Flora of North America | accessdate = 2008-01-04 ]

Plants of the genus "Arctium" have dark green leaves that can grow up to 18" (45 cm) long. They are generally large, coarse and ovate, with the lower ones being heart-shaped. They are woolly underneath. The leafstalks are generally hollow. "Arctium" species generally flower from July through to October.

The prickly heads of these plants are noted for easily catching on to fur and clothing, thus providing an excellent mechanism for seed dispersal. Burrs cause local irritation and can possibly cause intestinal hairballs in pets. However, most animals avoid ingesting these plants.

A large number of species have been placed in genus "Arctium" at one time or another, but most of them are now classified in the related genus "Cousinia". The precise limits between "Arctium" and "Cousinia" are hard to define; there is an exact correlation between their molecular phylogeny. The burdocks are sometimes confused with the cockleburs (genus "Xanthium") and rhubarb (genus "Rheum").

The roots of burdock, among other plants, are eaten by the larva of the Ghost Moth ("Hepialus humuli"). The plant is used as a food plant by other Lepidoptera including Brown-tail, "Coleophora paripennella", "Coleophora peribenanderi", The Gothic, Lime-speck Pug and Scalloped Hazel.

The green, above-ground portions may cause contact dermatitis in humans due to the lactones the plant produces.


Food and drink

The taproot of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. While generally out of favour in modern European cuisine, it remains popular in Asia, particularly in Japan where "A. lappa (Greater burdock)" is called "gobō" (牛蒡 or ゴボウ). Plants are cultivated for their slender roots, which can grow about 1 metre long and 2 cm across. Burdock root is very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavour with a little muddy harshness that can be reduced by soaking julienne/shredded roots in water for five to ten minutes. Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring, before flowers appear; the taste resembles that of artichoke, to which the burdock is related. A popular Japanese dish is "kinpira gobō", julienned or shredded burdock root and carrot, braised with soy sauce, sugar, mirin and/or sake, and sesame oil; another is burdock makizushi (sushi filled with pickled burdock root rather than fish; the burdock root is often artificially coloured orange to resemble a carrot). In the second half of the 20th century, burdock achieved international recognition for its culinary use due to the increasing popularity of the macrobiotic diet, which advocates its consumption. It also contains a fair amount of gobō dietary fiber (GDF, 6g per 100g), calcium, potassium, amino acids, [ [http://www.nikkeibp.co.jp/wcs/leaf/CID/onair/kenkou/plus/419412 nikkeibp.co.jp] ] and is also low calorie. It also contains polyphenols that causes darkened surface and muddy harshness by formation of tannin-iron complexes though the harshness shows excellent harmonization with pork in miso soup (tonjiru) and Japanese-style pilaf (takikomi gohan).

"Dandelion and burdock" is a soft drink that has long been popular in the United Kingdom. Burdock is believed to be a galactagogue, a substance that increases lactation.

Italian Americans are known to use the peeled stems of the burdock. Referred to as "cardune", these stems are prepared in a battered frittata, a common dish on a St. Joseph's Day Table.

Traditional medicine

Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. The seeds of "A. lappa" are used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name "niupangzi" (zh-cp|c=牛蒡子|p=niúpángzi; Some dictionaries list the Chinese as just 牛蒡 niúbàng.)

Burdock is a traditional medicinal herb that is used for many ailments. Burdock root oil extract, also called Bur oil, is popular in Europe as a scalp treatment applied to improve hair strength, shine and body, help reverse scalp conditions such as dandruff, and combat hair loss. Modern studies Fact|date=July 2007 indicate that Burdock root oil extract is rich in phytosterols and essential fatty acids (including rare long-chain EFAs), the nutrients required to maintain a healthy scalp and promote natural hair growth. It combines an immediate relieving effect with nutritional support of normal functions of sebaceous glands and hair follicles.

According to some European herbalists, combining Burdock root oil with a Nettle root oil and massaging these two oils into the scalp every day has a greater effect than Bur oil alone. Fact|date=July 2007

Burdock has been used for centuries as a blood purifier clearing the bloodstream of some toxins, and as a diuretic (helping rid the body of excess water by increasing urine output), and as a topical remedy for skin problems such as acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

Burdock and Velcro

After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the 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 realised that the same approach could be used to join other things together. The result was Velcro.


The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wrote in his journal, in 1896, about a tiny shoot of burdock he saw in a ploughed field, “black from dust but still alive and red in the center … It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other had asserted it.”


* "Arctium lappa" : Greater Burdock, Gobō
* "Arctium minus" : Lesser Burdock, Burweed, Louse-bur, Button-bur
** "Arctium minus nemorosum" (="Arctium vulgare") : Woodland Burdock, Wood Burdock
* "Arctium pubens" : Common Burdock
* "Arctium tomentosum" : Downy Burdock, Woolly Burdock


Because the roots of burdock closely resemble those of Deadly nightshade (also known as belladonna or Atropa belladonna), there is a risk that burdock preparations may be contaminated with these potentially dangerous herbs. Be sure to buy products from established companies with good reputations. Do not gather burdock in the wild unless you know what you are doing.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Burdock — Bur dock, n. [Bur + dock the plant.] (Bot.) A genus of coarse biennial herbs ({Lappa}), bearing small burs which adhere tenaciously to clothes, or to the fur or wool of animals. [1913 Webster] Note: The common burdock is the {Lappa officinalis}.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • burdock — coarse, weedy plant, 1590s, from BUR (Cf. bur) + DOCK (Cf. dock) (n.3) …   Etymology dictionary

  • burdock — ► NOUN ▪ a herbaceous plant of the daisy family, with large leaves and prickly flowers. ORIGIN from BUR(Cf. ↑B) + DOCK(Cf. ↑dock) …   English terms dictionary

  • burdock — [bʉr′däk΄] n. [ BUR1 + DOCK3] any of several plants (genus Arctium) of the composite family, with large basal leaves and purple flowered heads covered with hooked prickles …   English World dictionary

  • burdock — didžioji varnalėša statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Astrinių šeimos daržovinis, vaistinis nuodingas augalas (Arctium lappa), paplitęs Europoje ir Azijoje. atitikmenys: lot. Arctium lappa angl. burdock; edible burdock; great burdock; lappa… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • burdock — /berr dok/, n. a composite plant of the genus Arctium, esp. A. lappa, a coarse, broad leaved weed bearing prickly heads of burs that stick to the clothing. [1590 1600; BUR1 + DOCK4] * * * Any plant of the genus Arctium, in the composite family,… …   Universalium

  • Burdock (disambiguation) — Burdock refers to any of a group of thistle like plants.Burdock may also refer to:In fictional characters: *Burdock ( Dragon Ball ) or Bardock, a character in Dragon Ball media *Fred Burdock, a character in the E/R universeIn other uses: *Burdock …   Wikipedia

  • Burdock piling — is a technique of Japanese wall building used to build castles, such as Osaka Castle and named after the resemblance to the Japanese burdock plant. Large rocks are fitted together over a mound of earth, and the remaining cracks are filled in with …   Wikipedia

  • burdock clover — varnalėšinis dobilas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Pupinių šeimos pašarinis augalas (Trifolium lappaceum), paplitęs pietų Europoje, šiaurės Afrikoje ir vakarų Azijoje. atitikmenys: lot. Trifolium lappaceum angl. bur clover; burdock… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • burdock — noun Date: 15th century any of a genus (Arctium) of coarse composite herbs bearing globular flower heads with prickly bracts …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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