1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (37 votes, average: 3.32 out of 5)


Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Winter Winter

You must have the land owners permission to dig up Burdock roots but if you ask any farmer, they might laugh at you but they don’t usually mind you digging up persistent weeds for them.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Burdock
Scientific Name Arctium minus, Arctium lappa
Season Start Sep
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Very large, dark green on top, lighter and slightly downy underneath. Heart shaped towards the base becoming more spear like on the flower stem.


Purple and rather like a thistle flower until dry and brown, forming a ‘bur’. Flowers mid Summer to Autumn.


The ‘burrs’ or seeds are the annoying parts that stick strongly to your clothes or tangle your hair if you are unlucky enough to come into contact with them.


Black and usually like a very long carrot but due to the stoney soil it usually grows in, they can become forked or stunted.


Waste ground, meadow edges, gardens, roadsides, alongside footpaths, woodland edges and around the edges of nearly all the farmers fields I’ve had the privilege to forage around.

Possible Confusion

Could be mistaken for Butterbur, Petasites hybridus, but Butterbur has much rounder leaves that are downy underneath. The jury is out on the edibility of Butterbur, as like purple flowered comfrey it contains small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can be harmful to the liver.


The roots taste a bit like a cross between sweet chestnut and parsnip.




The roots are the best part of this plant but most often require major excavation to remove them from the usually hard and stoney ground. You need to forage the roots in Autumn or Spring of the first years growth to be of any worth. The roots can be roasted like parsnip, sliced finely and stir fried or made into a puree.

The stems of the younger plants can be eaten until about May when they become woody and bitter. The tough outside of the stem needs to be removed first revealing a thin vegetable that can be treated like asparagus or used raw in salads.

The leaves best use is to wrap and protect food when cooking in a ground or clay oven or in campfires.

Medicinal Uses

Recent studies have shown that the extracted oil from the root of Burdock is rich in essential fatty acids and phytosterols.

Other Facts

Burdock was commonly used in cooking in the UK in times past but has long been forgotten about. In Asia Burdock is still used to this day where it is collected commercially and called Gobo.
Starting in 1948 George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, created Velcro after walking his dog and noticing the ‘burs’ from Burdock sticking to his dog.
If you are lucky to be near some Burdock when it starts to rain the leaves are big enough to make a foraged umbrella!


12 comments for Burdock

  1. Paul Kelly says:

    Other sources point out possible confusion with foxglove. Apparently, the veins of the poisonous foxglove run parallel to the main vein of the leaf which can also be slightly more pointed at the tip.

    P.S. love the website and hoping there will be a print version of the guides.

  2. Sergio says:

    You’re so cool! I do not suppose I’ve read something like that before.
    So wonderful to find somebody with a few original thoughts on this subject matter.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the web, someone with a bit of
    originalityتربیت کودک دو زبانه !

  3. Michael Williams says:

    How about dandelion and burdock, a firm favourite as a kid, and a sweeter less corrosive option to cola?

  4. Sonny Khan says:

    I’ve tried cooking this wild root several times, both in a campfire wrapped up in its own leaves and buried in the ashes, and at home, boiling it or putting it in the oven. I’ve never had any success, always found it very fibrous and hard to cook or soften. Anyone had any success? The seeds are a good size for sprouting over the winter but I’ve not tried, it’s on my list though.

    1. Mg says:

      Cut into small pieces (like carrots julienne) then soak overnight.

  5. Claire says:

    I have planted seeds last autumn kept them reasonably damp all winter in the conservatory and they’ve just come up in abundance. I’m realising a part of the garden and can’t wait to get some in.
    Japanese cooking includes them often, I’d look there for recipes and ways to cook the root.

  6. jean says:

    trying to identify a mystery plant which looks similar-same kind of leaves-over 5ft looks like it might have thistle type flower-but the plant has barbs on the stems-is this a burdock or something else?
    Many thanks

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      You can send photos for identification to [email protected]. Please ensure you send clear photos including the cap, gills and stem for mushrooms and leaves, flowers, buds, pods and a photo of the entire plant. Any additional info can help with the ID, like smells, location and size.

  7. Charlie says:

    How do you kill this invasive weed?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It is a biennial so if you can cut the flowers off and stop it seeding two years in a row, that should be the end of the problem although some seeds may stay viable and need pulling up as the young plants appear.

  8. Joka Quigley says:

    I wish someone would take mine it’s so invasive !!
    Send them my way please!
    Live in Pepperell , MA

    1. Alison says:

      Mine too!!! Live in Oxfordshire , UK. It’s the bane of my horse’s life in his field!!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *