Grasslands, open areas, and disturbed habitats
Native to Eurasia; widespread worldwide
No listed status
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Burdock is a biennial plant, meaning it lives for two years. In their first year, burdock stems are low and the leaves form a rosette. In their second year, they develop much longer, branched stems that can grow between 3 and 6 feet tall. Burdocks’ thick, heart-shaped leaves are dark green and have a hairy underside. Their flowers are spherical and either purple or sometimes white in color. The flowers are easily confused with thistles, but can be distinguished by their hooked bracts (specialized small leaves on the flowers).
Burdock has a history of being used for a variety of medical purposes. The Cherokee people have used the seeds and roots as a blood cleanser and many groups native to Asia prepare burdock into soups and teas, in addition to using it medicinally. It has been used for dandruff, acne, eczema, gout, sores, as a diuretic and laxative, and for many other ailments.
Burdock burrs were the inspiration for Velcro. In 1941, George de Mestral went on a hike and became fascinated by the Burdock burrs that kept sticking to his dog's fur. Inspired by the wonders of nature, de Mestral set out to replicate this design. However, this ended up being quite a difficult task and took almost a decade for this inspiration to turn into the Velcro we use today (Velcro is technically a trademarked name, the product is actually called hook and loop fasteners).
Encyclopædia Britannica, Burdock, 2021, https://www.britannica.com/plant/burdock
University of Nevada - Reno, Nevada Nuisance Weeds Field Guide, 2018, https://extension.unr.edu/publication.aspx?PubID=2325
Velcro, About VELCRO® Brand, 2021, https://www.velcro.com/about-us/our-brand/
Ikhlas A. Khan & Ehab A. Abourashed, Leung's Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2010, https://naturalingredient.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/leungs-encyclopedia-of-common-natural-ingredients-3rd-edition.pdf
Illinois Wildflowers, Common Burdock, 2021, https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/cm_burdock.htm
Image: C T Johansson, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:IMG_0024-Arctium_minus.jpg, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en, cropped from original.
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