Medicinal Plants »Burdock


Arctium lappa

Flavor Profile and Uses

  • Medicinal edible root with an earthy flavor similar to parsnips (root can also be tinctured fresh for future medicinal use)
  • Nutritious food source rich in vitamins and minerals easily eaten in soups, salads, stir fry’s, and roasts
  • A favorite restorative tonic among herbalists, used to support liver and kidney function
  • Due to these functions, burdock is effective in addressing many skin maladies such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema
  • Bitter properties that stimulate bile production and improve digestion
  • Leaves of Burdock are used fresh topically as poultices to treat boils, rashes, bites, and infections
  • Seeds of Burdock can be used to stimulate immune response and some herbalists use them to treat colds and flus


  • Extremely common throughout North America due to aggressive growth habits and sturdy constitution
  • Known for prickly burrs that stick to clothing, fur, etc.
  • Grows 3 – 4’ tall in its first year with large, deep green, heart shaped, and fuzzy leaves
  • In the 2nd year, Burdock grows flowering stalks which can reach 7 – 8’
  • Flowers are pinkish-purple and found at the top of the burrs
  • Taproots are dense and fleshy the first year, growing up to 2’ in depth
  • In the 2nd year, taproots become fibrous and woody, with a hollowed out center and reduced medicinal value

Harvesting Instructions

  • Harvest roots in the fall at the end of the first season of plant growth (before the stalks appear)
  • Loosen the soil around the plant, then dig by hand with a spade, fork, or shovel – carefully work the root out of the ground, maintaining as much of it as possible without breakage
  • Cut up and wash long roots with a scrub brush, then cook and eat, dry in a single layer on a rack, or tincture for later use
Carpenter, Jeff, and Carpenter, Melanie. The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015.