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Toxic parts

Care should be taken if harvesting the seed in any quantity since tiny hairs from the seeds can be inhaled and these are toxic[1].

Edible uses


Root - raw or cooked[2][3][4][5][6]. Very young roots can be eaten raw, but older roots are normally cooked[7]. They can be up to 120cm long and 2.5cm wide at the top, but are best harvested when no more than 60cm long[7]. Old and very long roots are apt to become woody at the core[7]. Although it does not have much flavour the root can absorb other flavours[8]. Young roots have a mild flavour, but this becomes stronger as the root gets older[7]. The root is white but discolours rapidly when exposed to the air[7]. Roots can be dried for later use[9]. They contain about 2.5% protein, 0.14% fat, 14.5% carbohydrate, 1.17% ash[6]. The root contains about 45% inulin[10]. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by the human body, and thus passes straight through the digestive system. In some people this starch will cause fermentation in the gut, resulting in wind[K]. Inulin can be converted into a sweetener that is suitable for diabetics to eat[K].

Young leaves - raw or cooked[4][11][5][12]. A mucilaginous texture[6]. The leaves contain about 3.5% protein, 1.8% fat, 19.4% carbohydrate, 8.8% ash[6]. Young stalks and branches - raw or cooked[2][4][13][14][12]. Used like asparagus or spinach[11][15]. They taste best if the rind is removed[16][17]. The leaf stalks can be parboiled and used as a substitute for cardoons[15]. The pith of the flowering stem can be eaten raw in salads, boiled or made into confections[18][15]. A delicate vegetable, somewhat like asparagus in flavour[18].

The seeds can be sprouted and used like bean-sprouts[11][13][15].


Material uses

The juice of the plant, when used as a friction, is said to have a stimulating action against baldness[3].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine[19]. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used[18]. It is used to treat conditions caused by an 'overload' of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems[19]. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body[19]. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Rumex acetosella, Ulmus rubra and Rheum palmatum[19].

The plant is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative[4][20][21][22][23]. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc[18][24]. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc[24]. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash[24]. Use with caution[22]. The roots of one-year old plants are harvested in mid-summer and dried. They are alterative, aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stomachic[25][26]. The seed is alterative, antiphlogistic, depurative, diaphoretic and diuretic[25]. Recent research has shown that seed extracts lower blood sugar levels[27]. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use[19].

The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises[26]. The leaves are poulticed onto burns, ulcers and sores[26].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in situ in the autumn[28]. The seed can also be sown in spring[7]. Germination can be erratic, it is best to sow the seed in trays and plant out the young plants before the tap-root develops[7]. Seed requires a minimum temperature of 10°c, but a temperature of 20 - 25°c is optimum[7]. Germination rates can be improved by pre-soaking the seed for 12 hours or by scarification[7]. They germinate best in the light[7]. The autumn sowing should be made as late as possible because any plants with roots more than 3mm in diameter in the spring will quickly run to seed if cold temperatures are followed by daylengths longer than 12½ hours[7].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Arctium lappa. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most soils when grown in partial shade[28]. Prefers a moist neutral to alkaline soil[27] and a sunny position in a heavy soil[29]. Plants are best grown in a light well-drained soil if the roots are required for culinary use[28][7]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.6 to 7.8.

The top growth dies back at temperatures a little above freezing, but the roots tolerate much lower temperatures[7] and can be left in the ground all winter to be harvested as required. Burdock is cultivated for its edible root in Japan, there are some named varieties[15]. Spring-sown seed produces edible roots in late summer and autumn, whilst autumn sown crops mature in the following spring or early summer[7]. Although the plants are quite large, it is best to grow them fairly close together (about 15cm apart, or in rows 30cm apart with the plants 5 - 8cm apart in the rows) since this encourages the development of long straight roots[7]. The seed head has little hooked prickles and these attach themselves to the hairs or clothing of passing creatures and can thus be carried for some considerable distance from the parent plant[18]. The plants usually self-sow freely[27].

The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[7].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Arctium lappa. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Arctium lappa.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Arctium lappa
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    2 x 1 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

    "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


    1. ? Erhardt. W. Hemerocallis. Day Lilies. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-7065-8 (1992-00-00)
    2. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    4. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    5. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
    6. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    7. ? Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4781-4 (1991-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Brooklyn Botanic Garden Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2. Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1986-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    11. ? Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
    12. ? Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    13. ? Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Harris. B. C. Eat the Weeds. Pivot Health (1973-00-00)
    15. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.1 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Rosengarten. jnr. F. The Book of Edible Nuts. Walker & Co. ISBN 0802707699 (1984-00-00)
    18. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    19. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    21. ? 21.021.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    22. ? Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    23. ? 23.023.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    24. ? Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    25. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    26. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    27. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    28. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    29. ? Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods. ()
    30. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17

    "image:Arctium lappa02.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Arctium lappa"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyCompositae +
    Belongs to genusArctium +
    Has binomial nameArctium lappa +
    Has common nameGreat Burdock +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partLeaves +, Root +, Seed + and Stem +
    Has edible useUnknown use +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile +, Bees +, Lepidoptera + and Self +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone3 +
    Has imageArctium lappa02.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typeBiennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useHair care +
    Has mature height2 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAlterative +, Antibacterial +, Antifungal +, Antiphlogistic +, Aperient +, Blood purifier +, Carminative +, Cholagogue +, Depurative +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Hypoglycaemic + and Stomachic +
    Has primary imageArctium lappa02.jpg +
    Has search namearctium lappa + and great burdock +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameArctium lappa +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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