This plant has wavy-edged, arrow-shaped leaves and flower
heads in burrlike clusters. It grows up to 2 meters tall, with
purple or pink flowers and a large, fleshy root. The seed pods
or "burrs" will easily attach themselves to most fabrics.
Habitat and Distribution
Burdock is found worldwide in the North Temperate Zone. Look
for it in open waste areas during the spring and summer.
Peel the tender leaf stalks and eat them raw or cook them
like greens. The roots are also edible boiled or baked.
Do not confuse burdock with rhubarb, which has poisonous leaves.
A liquid made from the roots will help to produce sweating
and increase urination. Dry the root, simmer it in water, strain
the liquid, and then drink the strained liquid. Use the fiber
from the dried stalk to weave cordage.
Burdock has long been eaten as a springtime blood-cleansing
food. It is vitamin and iron-rich.
The leaves can be eaten in the spring, when young, but they
are tough, and may need boiling through two changes of water
to soften them up and reduce the bitterness.
Historically, some Indian tribes dried the roots for use in
winter stews. They also roasted and ground the roots to use as
a coffee substitute.
The burrs, which are the inspiration for Velcro, can be used
to pin together two sides of a jacket (or a blanket being used
as a robe), This is something to keep in mind if you break a
zipper or lose your buttons. I have used the sturdier burs as
a convenient way to make my gloves stick to my hat when I need
my hands free quickly.