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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.
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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 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 Burdock, 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:
1 metre tall
Fields, 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, Common Burdock, 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

Other Information


Arctium lappa, also known as greater burdock or common 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. lappa is a biennial herb that grows to a height of up to 2 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. lappa is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is known for its ability to tolerate dry, rocky soil.


Greater Burdock: A Versatile Herb with Many Health Benefits

Greater Burdock, also known as Arctium lappa, is a plant native to Europe and Asia that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. This plant has a long taproot and large, heart-shaped leaves that make it easy to identify.

In traditional Chinese medicine, greater burdock has been used to treat a variety of health problems, including skin conditions, digestive problems, and respiratory infections. It is also used as a blood purifier and to boost the immune system.

One of the active ingredients in greater burdock is a type of polyphenol called arctiin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties. This makes greater burdock an excellent herb for those looking to support their overall health and wellbeing.

Another key benefit of greater burdock is its ability to support healthy digestion. The plant contains inulin, a type of soluble fiber that can help to regulate digestion and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. This makes it an excellent herb for those who struggle with digestive problems like bloating, constipation, and indigestion.

Greater burdock is also a good source of antioxidants, which help to protect the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals. These antioxidants can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and age-related declines in cognitive function.

In addition to its health benefits, greater burdock is also a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of ways. The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute, or they can be added to soups and stews for added flavor and nutrition. The leaves can be used as a wrap for foods like sandwiches, and the seeds can be dried and ground into a powder that can be added to baked goods.

Greater burdock is also known for its skin-loving properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne. This is because the plant contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to soothe and heal the skin.

For those looking to support their liver function, greater burdock is also an excellent herb to consider. The plant has been shown to have liver-protective effects and can help to support the liver's ability to remove toxins from the body. This is particularly important for those who are exposed to environmental pollutants on a regular basis.

In terms of its use as a food, greater burdock root has a sweet, earthy flavor that is similar to that of a parsnip. It is often used in traditional Japanese cuisine and is the main ingredient in a dish called "gobo," which is a stir-fried burdock root that is commonly served as a side dish.

Another way to enjoy the benefits of greater burdock is by taking it in supplement form. Greater burdock supplements are widely available in health food stores and online, and they come in a variety of forms, including capsules, tinctures, and teas.

In conclusion, greater burdock is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its many health benefits. Whether you are looking to support your overall health and wellbeing, soothe your skin, or simply enjoy its unique flavor, this versatile herb is well worth exploring.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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