You know those sticky burrs that latch on to your clothing as you traipse through the fields? They are from the burdock or Arctium plant. Often mistaken for a rank weed, the root of this herb is very useful and used for medicinal purposes. July through October is the peak flowering season, so look for it now.
The Japanese prize burdock for cooking. The root is very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavor. Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring, before flowers appear. They taste somewhat like artichoke, to which the burdock is related. It is also related to rhubarb. The stalks are thoroughly peeled, and either eaten raw or boiled in salt water. Burdock is served, usually as a garnish, in in sushi restaurants in this country.
It is the root that is prized for medicinal purposes. It has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Traditionally, it has been used as a “blood purifier” to clear the bloodstream of toxins, as a diuretic and as a topical remedy for skin problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. The medicinal uses of burdock in treating chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and AIDS have also been reported. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, burdock is often used with other herbs for sore throat and colds. Extracts of burdock root are found in a variety of herbal preparations, as well as homeopathic remedies.
Even the burrs have proved useful by inspiring a clever idea. In the early 40’s, a Swiss inventor named George de Mestral went for a walk and got burdock burrs stuck on his clothes and his dog. He became curious about the burrs and studied them under a microscope. Looking closely at the hook system that the burrs use to hitchhike on passing animals aiding seed dispersal, he realized that the same approach could be used to join things together. Velcro was born!
Researched by Max