Arcion minus Bubani
Arctium chabertii Briq. & Cavill.
Arctium conglomeratum Schur ex Nyman
Arctium euminus Syme
Arctium lappa Kalm
Arctium montanum Steud.
Arctium nemorosum pubens (Bab.) Rothm.
Arctium pubens Bab.
Arctium tomentosum pubens (Bab.) Nyman
Bardana minor Hill
Lappa minor Hill
Lappa pubens (Bab.) Boreau
Common Name: Lesser Burdock
Basal leaves of first year growth
Photograph by: Sven Gaedtke
Arctium minus is a herbaceous, biennial plant that can grow up to 2 metres tall when flowering. The plant produces a rosette of basal leaves and a deep, stout taproot in its first year of growth, sending up a tall flowering stem in its second year.
Burdock is a very important medicinal herb in both Eastern and Western traditions - the main species used in Arctium lappa, but this plant has similar properties. The plant is also sometimes harvested from the wild for use as a food and source of fibre for paper.
The plant has been spread through human agency to many temperate areas of the globe, including Australia and N. America.
Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this plant, some caution is advised due to the following report for the closely related A. lappa[
]. Care should be taken if harvesting the seed in any quantity since tiny hairs from the seeds can be inhaled and these are toxic[
Europe - Finland to Spain, east through Russia and Ukraine to Caucasia, through southeast Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria to Irag, Afghanistan
Waste ground, edges of woods, roadsides etc[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Pollinators||Bees, Lepidoptera, Self
Succeeds on most soils, preferably moist[
]. Prefers a sunny position. Prefers partial shade according to another report[
A polymorphic species[
A good butterfly plant[
Root - raw or cooked[
]. The best roots are obtained from young plants[
]. Usually peeled and sliced[
The roasted root is a coffee substitute[
Young leaves and leaf stems - raw or cooked[
]. Used as a potherb[
]. Mucilaginous. It is best to remove the rind from the stem[
Young flowering stem - peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus[
]. No further details.
Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine[
]. Arctium lappa is the main species used, though this species has similar properties[
]. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used[
]. It is used to treat conditions caused by an 'overload' of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems[
]. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body[
The plant is antibacterial, antifungal and carminative[
]. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc[
]. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc[
]. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash[
]. Use with caution[
One-year old roots are alterative, aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stomachic[
The seed is alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, antiphlogistic, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and hypoglycaemic[
]. It is used in the treatment of colds with sore throat and cough, measles, pharyngitis, acute tonsillitis and abscesses[
]. The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises[
]. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use[
The seed contains arctiin, this excites the central nervous system producing convulsions an increase in respiration and later paralysis. It also lowers the blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels[
The leaves are poulticed onto burns, ulcers and sores[
A fibre is obtained from the inner bark and is used to make paper. It is about 0.9mm long[
]. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed in order to strip off the fibre. The fibres are then cooked for two hours in soda ash before being put in a ball mill for 2 hours[
]. The resulting paper is a light tan/ brown colour[
Seed - best sown in situ in autumn.