Articles and Photos Copyright Karen Bergeron 2007-2015
Arctium lappa, - Great Burdock
Arctium Minus - Lesser Burdock
Also Known as Cocklebur, Gobo root, Clot bur, Burr Seed
Burdock Habitat and Description
Burdock, an herb with prickly seeds also known as Cocklebur, is a common wild plant. Burdock is commonly found in pastures and waste places in the Eastern Central United States, as far south as Tennessee - though more common northward, also in Canada.
First year plants have large leaves that resemble Elephant ears but lay prostrate on the ground (basal leaves). Do not confuse with Rhubarb, whose leaves are poisonous. In the second year, Burdock sends up a stem and boasts round pink and white or purple flowers in early summer, then ripens into prickly balls up to an inch in diameter.
If they are unaware of its use as food and medicine, most people would consider Burdock to be a weed, and a pesky one at that. The ripe seeds cling to clothing and animal fur, and aren't always easy to remove. I spent many an hour as a youngster combing cockleburs from the fur of our dogs and horses, and writing them off as minor nuisance.
Burdock Medicinal Properties
An old time herbalist, now deceased, told me that the seeds of Cocklebur soaked in milk will cure cancer. The root is edible, and mostly used as a blood purifier; the leaf is used externally for skin breakouts. It is also said that Burdock leaves applied to the feet may cure gout. John Lust in The Herb Book says that Burdock leaves may be helpful as a skin wash for acne, poison ivy, and poison oak.
More Burdock Medicinal Use Information
Burdock Folklore and Magial Use
In magic, this is a protective herb that wards off negativity, offers healing and protection.
Author's own anecdotes - Karen Bergeron
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham
The Herb Book, John Lust
Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants Steven Foster/ James A Duke, PhD