Last year I bought some Burdock seeds because since I have been living in NC I haven't seen any Burdock in the wild. Where I come from it was very common and I missed my old friend. I planted the seeds in part of my Medicinal Herb Garden. The garden got over run with unwanted plants and it wasn't till the Fall that I noticed some small Burdock leaves amongst the rubble. This Spring the plants really started to grow well and are out competing the other plants so far.
|The large leaves of the Common Burdock|
Burdock is a grandiose plant. The leaves are large and somewhat heart shaped and are more fuzzy than shiny. I have seen Burdock leaves over 12" long not including the leaf stem. The leaf stem looks a lot like Celery with the base usually a purple color, especially in older plants.
|Celery shaped leaf stems, purple at the base.|
While out mowing, I saw a large Burdock plant on a part of my property I don't frequent very often and was surprised to see it there. I got so excited, I went back to get my shovel with thoughts of finally having something to write about.
Burdock has a long, usually straight tap root that is almost impossible to get out of the ground in one piece. I dug the shovel in as deep as I could working around the plant, than started to pry hoping to get as much of the root as I could. While prying I heard that familiar SNAP! as the plant gave way and popped out of the ground. As soon as I saw the root I realized I made a big mistake. You see, Burdock is a Biennial and the first year roots are what you are looking for. The second year roots are large, woody and fibrous, where the first year roots are solid, succulent and tender.
As soon as I saw the large woody root I realized I let my excitement cloud my experience and knowledge, and I destroyed a plant that would have flowered this year and would have spread seed around to grow more plants. The only silver lining I can rationalize is the fact that I got such a small part of the root that most of it was still in the ground and hopefully will grow into a new plant. Also, I stuck the plant back in the ground in a different spot hoping it will continue to grow.
While working my way back, I started to notice a couple of younger Burdock plants growing in other places. I dug out a small one and actually got most of the root, it was a good one too! Interesting that I had never seen Burdock on my property before now it is in multiple places. Coincidence, or did birds take the seeds I planted and deposit them in other places?
|Whole young Plant|
|This tap root was over 9"long!|
So, why go through all this trouble anyway? Burdock is a prized Edible and Medicinal plant used in many parts of the world. Most people use the roots but the leaf stems are also an important survival food source. The leaf stems are eaten in any way you would use celery. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Before using them though, the fuzzy coating should be removed. The easiest way to do this is to hold a knife perpendicular to the stem and scrape the stem till clean. It comes off easily and can also be done with your finger nail.
|The celery like stems cleaned and ready to eat!|
The real prize of the Burdock is the root. I have seen burdock root for sale in health food stores for $26 a pound! As with most plants, collect the root in the late Fall or early Spring as to get all the stored energy and nutrients. The root can be eaten raw or cooked and when young and succulent, they are delicious. Use them in salads, stews or stir fry's.
I first learned about the Medicinal qualities of Burdock Root a long time ago when I learned about a very famous Cancer Cure called Essiac. Burdock root is one of the main ingredients in this formula because it is considered a superb Blood Cleanser. You can dry the Root or make a Tincture for future use.
Most people would think I am crazy because it is considered a noxious weed, but I am glad to see Burdock growing on my property and I hope it spreads around to provide me with food and Medicine as I need it.
PS Later on in the summer when Burdock blooms, you will be treated to some very beautiful Thistle like flowers!
If you think you would like to grow Burdock, I have some seeds for sale HERE