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Lesser Burdock

Arctium minus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Fields, hedgerows, roadsides, sand dunes, towns, wasteland, woodland.

Purple, many petals
Oval spiky flower heads. A feature worth noting when distinguishing between Greater Burdock and Lesser Burdock is the flower stalks. For Lesser Burdock, the flower stalks are very short, up to 1cm, but with Greater Burdock they can be as long as 10cm.
Clusters of round, prickly fruit called 'burs'. The prickles of the burs have small hooks at their ends. The hooks can cause the fruit to stick to clothing and animal fur very easily while brushing past them.
The alternate stem leaves are large, broad, triangular with wavy edges. The even larger basal rosette leaves can be anything up to 20 inches long. Greater Burdock has solid lower leaf stalks, yet Lesser Burdock has hollow lower leaf stalks.
Other Names:
Bardane, Beggar's Button, Burweed, Button-bur, Clotbur, Cockle Buttons, Cocklebur, Common Burdock, Cuckoo-button, Edible Burdock, Fox's Clote, Happy Major, Hardock, Harebur, Little Burdock, Louse-bur, Love Leaves, Petite Bardane, Small Burdock, Stick Button, Sticktight, Thorny Burr, Wild Burdock, Wild Rhubarb.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Arctium minus, also known as lesser burdock or small burdock, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in grassland, meadows, and pastures. A. minus is a biennial herb that grows to a height of up to 1.5 meters. It has large, heart-shaped leaves and small, purple or pink flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant is valued for its medicinal properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions and respiratory problems. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species. A. minus is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is known for its ability to tolerate dry, rocky soil.


Lesser Burdock, also known as Arctium minus, is a biennial plant native to Europe and Asia but has naturalized in North America and other parts of the world. It is a member of the Asteraceae family, which also includes plants like sunflowers and daisies.

The plant is known for its large, heart-shaped leaves and the characteristic round, burr-like fruits that easily cling to clothing and animal fur, thus aiding in its dispersal. The burrs contain small, brown seeds that are edible but have a bitter taste. In some cultures, the roots of the plant have been used as a vegetable, while the leaves and stems have been used for medicinal purposes.

Lesser Burdock is considered a weed by many as it can invade agricultural fields and grow in disturbed areas. However, it also has beneficial qualities and is often used for natural remedies. The plant contains active compounds like tannins, inulin, and essential oils that make it a useful ingredient in various health products.

The plant's root has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including skin diseases, infections, and digestive problems. In modern times, studies have shown that the root of the Lesser Burdock plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, making it a promising natural remedy.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Lesser Burdock is also used as a food source in some cultures. The plant's young leaves and stems can be cooked as a vegetable and used in salads, while the root can be peeled and roasted or boiled to reduce its bitter taste. In Asia, the root is used as an ingredient in traditional dishes, such as soups and stews.

Lesser Burdock is also used as a natural dye. The roots of the plant contain a brownish-red pigment that can be used to dye fabrics and wool. The plant has been used for centuries to produce natural dyes for clothing, rugs, and other textiles.

In traditional herbal medicine, the plant is used for a variety of conditions, including skin irritations, boils, wounds, and digestive problems. The plant's anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in treating skin conditions, while its antibacterial properties make it a useful remedy for infections. The plant is also used as a diuretic to promote the removal of excess water from the body, and to relieve symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.

In modern times, Lesser Burdock is also used in cosmetics and personal care products. The plant's root extract is a common ingredient in hair care products, as it is believed to help promote hair growth and improve the overall health of the scalp. The extract is also used in skin care products, as it is thought to have anti-aging properties and to help soothe dry and irritated skin.

Another important aspect of Lesser Burdock is its impact on the environment. As a biennial plant, it has a two-year life cycle and produces large amounts of seeds that can be dispersed by wind and animals. This makes it an invasive species in many parts of the world, as it can quickly colonize disturbed areas and displace native vegetation.

However, Lesser Burdock also provides food and habitat for wildlife, including birds and small mammals. The plant's flowers are an important source of nectar for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and its burrs provide food and shelter for small mammals and birds.

In conclusion, Lesser Burdock is a complex plant with a range of benefits and drawbacks. Its versatility as a food, medicine, and natural dye, as well as its impact on the environment, make it an important species to understand and appreciate. While it may be seen as a weed by some, it also has valuable qualities that make it a valuable resource in our world.


Lesser Burdock filmed near Arley Hall Golf Course, Wigan, Lancashire on the 12th July 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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