Burdock Root

Arctium, various species



Burdock originated in Asia (it is still quite popular in Japan), but burdock roots also grow wild along roadsides in Wisconsin. It is slender and straight, and can grow up to 4 feet long. Beware: Burdock roots resemble those of deadly nightshade which is highly poisonous. Be sure to learn from an experience forager what burdock root looks like, or purchase from a knowledgeable source. Their habitats rarely overlap, however; but always take precautions when consuming wild harvested foods.

Burdock root is harvested in September but keeps all year long. Harmony Valley Farm near Viroqua grows a Japanese variety, and they have written a nice burdock root overview.

Fun fact: Burdock seeds were Swiss inventor Georges de Mestral’s inspiration for Velcro.

Nutrition: In traditional medicine, herbalists considered burdock root to be a blood purifier, a diuretic and a scalp treatment, while modern medicine has shown that the root’s oil is rich in essential fatty acids. It is also encouraged for consumption with a macrobiotic diet. 

Burdock Root