Burdock’s root and seed are both held in high esteem by herbal traditions around the world for their cleansing and alterative properties.
If you have ever returned from an autumn walk to find yourself (or your dog) covered in large burrs, chances are you (or the dog) have brushed past a burdock plant. The extraordinary sticking power of the prickly seed cases is burdock’s way of ensuring its progeny is spread far and wide – a strategy that has been remarkably successful. The hooked barbs on the burrs are also said to have been the inspiration behind the invention of velcro.
Burdock is a biennial that usually grows to around 150cm, sometimes more. It thrives in disturbed soils and can be grown almost anywhere. However, if you are growing it specifically for its root, best to grow it in moist, loamy soil, ideally in a sunny location. It’s worth growing a few plants so that you can harvest some roots at the end of the first year and then enjoy its purple flowers and seed in the second; the flowers are also much loved by bees and butterflies.