I can’t say what it is about weeds that l have always loved? Perhaps it is quite simply because they are misunderstood like some animal species. Whatever your opinion or view is on weeds, they are everywhere, and they are here to stay.

Twenty-five years ago, l used to forage for weeds to feed the enormous number of rabbits l had in my commercial breeding operation. Knowing about them made everything easier because it meant that l wouldn’t accidentally kill an animal by feeding the wrong weed.

Most weeds are harmless, not all. Of course, some are and can be deadly. The fact is that people don’t like weeds because they don’t belong where they usually appear or are out of place. Many a time, gardeners especially don’t want them because weeds tend to grow quicker and easier than many ornamental flowers.

Weeds have a way of surviving. They are ONLY considered weeds on the domestic level because, let’s be honest, when we are out walking in the countryside, how many people are bothered by the presence of weeds then?

There are advantages and disadvantages to having weeds in your gardens and yards. They do have a lot of benefits that many people tend to ignore, and this series will highlight that.
The Beauty of Weeds

Companion Plantings
Encouraging wildlife
Fertilising and enriching the soils
Providing and active Mulch/Soil protection
Attracting pollinators and good insects
Repelling pests
Food source for animals and humans
Serves as decoy crops
Great for wildlifing the garden
Soil conditioning


Arctium lappa

The English countryside is the most staggeringly beautiful place. I can’t spend as much time there as I like, but I like everything about it. I like fishing, I like clay- pigeon shooting.

Guy Ritchie

I should imagine more people are familiar with the burdock that sticks to your clothing as you walk through the undergrowth than they might be to the culprit itself. It’s the small burrs of burdock that do all the sticking to you, or as l like to joke, ‘It’s the burrsdock that sticks to your sock!

Burdock was originally from Japan, although now it is a plant found worldwide. It was a herb used medicinally by many apothecaries in medieval times.

The roots and stalks of this plant are edible, but the younger, more tender leaves are more pleasing than the older and harder leaves. Eaten as a root vegetable, it is known for its high nutritional value and fibrous content. I have never eaten it, but those who have informed me it tastes a bit like chicken … no, that’s wrong, more like parsnip.

It is a popular root often added to many dishes. However, unless you are entirely aware of the burdock plant and know it to be true burdock, then it might be best to either grow your own or buy from a seller direct as it can sometimes be confused with other harmful plants that only look like it but can lead to fatalities.

The plant or weed l should say because that is what it is, can be found on waste grounds, in meadows, in woodland areas and wild brush zones, and in set aside fields.

The plant’s leaves can grow very large indeed. The overall plant can easily attain a height of between 4 to 6 feet and can dwarf many plants, and causes significant concern with gardeners and planters alike. The weeds seed pods are determined to stay put!

The plant’s roots can grow very deep into the soil, making it hard to dig out. But wild foragers who consume it are eager to aid those who don’t wish to have it present. The taproot can grow upwards of two feet in length, which means it can barge its way through the soils, which, in turn, aids other aspects of life beneath the soils.

The burdock isn’t all that bad, not really, and it does have a few redeeming features to the understanding grower. It’s great for reducing soil corrosion and improving soil health. The leaves, too, have benefits due to their size and can be used as realistic shaders to other smaller plants.

Pollinators love the flowers of the burdock and other insects, too, and l have known a few wildlife gardeners who deliberately planted and grew on burdock for the benefits that it offers to both the soil and the wildlife.

I hope you enjoyed B is for Burdock and I’ll see you again soon.

The Autistic Composter

Species Guide Directory

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

5 thoughts on “Burdock

    1. The prickly bits are right pain in the butt when they get tangled up with you.

      Only last Wednesday was l having an argument with a clump that got caught into my tee shirt and they are like having baby hedgehogs attacking you.


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