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Greater Burdock

Arctium lappa

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.

Plant Data

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Annual Sunflower, Autumn Hawkbit, Beaked Hawksbeard, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Creeping Thistle, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Feverfew, Fox and Cubs, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Goat's Beard, Great Lettuce, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Hoary Ragwort, Lavender-cotton, Leopardsbane, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, Nipplewort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Sow-thistle, Pineapple Mayweed, Ploughman's Spikenard, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Rough Hawkbit, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shrub Ragwort, Silver Ragwort, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Sticky Groundsel, Tansy, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tyneside Leopardplant, Wall Lettuce, White Buttons, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Yarrow
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Farmland, grassland, towns, wetland, woodland.

Purple, many petals
Egg-shaped spiky flower heads forming flat-topped loose clusters. A notable feature for positively identifying Greater Burdock is its flower stalks which can be anything up to 10cm in length. Lesser Burdock has much shorter stalks, up to 1cm.
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 leaves are large, broad, triangular with toothed margins. Grey and woolly in appearance on the underside of the leaf surfaces. Another way to distinguish Greater Burdock from Lesser Burdock is by its lower leaf stalks. The lower leaf stalks are solid but with Lesser Burdock, the lower stalks are hollow.
Other Names:
Bardona, Beggar's Buttons, Clotburr, Cockle Buttons, Edible Burdock, Fox's Clote, Gobo, Happy Major, Lappa, Love Leaves, Personata, Philanthropium, Sticklebacks, Sticky Bobs, Sticky Jack, Thorny Burr.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  
Similar Species:
Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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