Burdock – Arctium lappa
The official name “Arctium” comes from the Greek word “bear”.
The name “lappa” comes from the Latin word “lappare” which means “to seize”. That refers to the burs which stick to the fur of animals who brush by the plant.
The name “burdock” was given to the plant reflecting to the fruits as burs and the huge dock-like leaves. A popular nickname for burdock is “Beggar’s button”.
The leaves are large and oval shaped. They can be about 50 cm (20 in) long. The burdock leaves are whitish underneath.
The purple flowers of the burdock can be up to 4 cm (1.5 in) wide. They are followed by fruits that are covered with hocked spines which contain beige seeds.
Burdock self-sows readily. Burdock seeds can also be planted directly into the ground in spring.
Parts used: Leaves, roots and seeds.
Burdock root is used in cooking as a vegetable. In Japan there it is common to use burdock root in cooking. They call it “gobo”. Burdock root can be prepared and cooked the same way as carrots. Burdock root can also be eaten raw.
Kinpira is a traditional dish in Japan with consists of stir fried burdock roots and carrots in a little oil. Add rice wine, soy sauce and a little sugar. Sprinkle the dish with sesame seeds. It tastes absolutely delicious.
You should soak the burdock in cold water for about 20 minutes before cooking it. Burdock root will take a little longer to cook than carrot.
You can also slice burdock roots diagonally into thin slices and use them in soups and stews.
Burdock root will oxidize very quickly. If it is left out it will discolor and turn brown. Place the chopped roots in water right away before cooking. The natural burdock root has a white color inside.
Warning: The root of the belladonna also known as Deadly Night Shade has a similar look to the root of the burdock. The belladonna is extremely toxic. Always buy burdock root from a trusted merchant.
The leaves of the burdock are also edible. The leaves have a bitter taste. They need to be soaked in water before using them in cooking. That draws out some of the bitterness.
Medicinal Herb – Herbal Benefits
Burdock is rich in Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3 and C.
Burdock is considered a blood purifier. Burdick root is beneficially for the liver.
Burdock root is used by many to help get rid of acne problems. Burdock root seems to have a very positive effect on many different skin problems. There have been many reports stating that burdock root has a very positive effect on keeping eczema under control.
Burdock is good for your hair and nails.
The burdock leaves are used to treat bruises. Chop up the leaves and mix with a little clay. Pat it on your bad bruise. The bruise should be gone in a couple of days.
Pregnant women should always consult their doctor before any treatment with herbal medicinal products. This also includes burdock.
George de Mestral from Switzerland invented Velcro. It is told he got the idea after examining burdock.
George de Mestral used to take his dog for walks in the Alps. His dog would often get covered in burdock which stuck to the fur.
Instead of feeling frustrated, he was curious. George de Mestral carefully removed the burdock from his dog’s fur and examined the burdock under the microscope.
To make a long story short he invented Velcro. Velcro was patented in 1955.