Burdock, Lessor Burdock, Little Burdock, Common Burdock, Louse-Bur, Button-Bur, Cuckoo-Button, Wild Rhubarb
Arctium minus (Hill) Bernh. is the correct and accepted scientific name for Burdock. It was named and described as such by Johann Jakob Bernhardi in Systematisches Verzeichnis der Pflanzen in 1800. It was first named described as Lappa minor by John Hill in Vegetable System in 1762.
The genus, Arctium L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 45 accepted species in the Arctium genus (as of 8-7-19 when I am writing this page). Those numbers could change.
Arctium minus is a European native and is a member of the Asteraceae Family.
There is an abundance of Arctium minus (Burdock) here on the farm in a few areas south of the pond where they are partially shaded by the Chinese Elm and Mulberry trees. When I was a kid I always thought it was some kind of wild rhubarb. Well, I guess I was partly right since Wild Rhubarb is one of its common names. Other names include Lessor Burdock, Little Burdock, Common Burdock, Louse-Bur, Button-Bur, Cuckoo-Button. Arctium minus is sometimes confused with rhubarb, which is Rheum rhabarbarum.
The hooked seeds stick in the fur of animals and on clothing which can be hard to remove. A Swiss inventor, George de Mestral, invented the hook and loop fastener after observing the seeds of Burdock. It was originally sold under the Velcro brand name.
Flowering plants are sometimes confused with the Common Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium).
Leaves can grow up to 28” long. Not commonly eaten by cows or deer, they will eat if not much else is available. I have noticed the cows here to snack on the upper stems from time to time but it isn’t that common.
Arctium species flower their second year and may not reach maturity until it is four years old. Flowers provide nectar and pollen for several species of bees and butterflies.
The taproots have a sweet taste and are more favored in Asian dishes. According to the Wikipedia page, Burdock contains a fair amount of dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, amino acids, and is low in calories. It contains polyphenol oxidase which causes it to darken and give it somewhat of a muddy taste. There is more information about the genus which you can read by clicking on the Wikipedia link below.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog (a continuing work in progress). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
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