2Arctium lappa 13, Grote klit, Saxifraga-Rutger Barendse.jpg

Arctium lappa (greater burdock)

Top photo by Rutger Barendse /Saxifraga.
Greater burdock is a biennial native in large parts of Europe, India, Western Asia and China. The plant is also cultivated, mainly for its roots used raw or cocked as a vegetable, but other parts are edible as well. The dried roots are also used in Western and Chinese herbal medicine where the plant is considered to be one of the foremost plants with detoxifying properties. Greater burdock is antibacterial and antifungal, the plant is for example supposed to be good for treating different types of skin diseases, burns and bruises. The plant can grow up to 200 cm high and is in flower between July to September. The species is a self-fertile hermaphrodite pollinated by insects such as bees and butterflies. The plants usually self-sow freely.


Sow the seeds in May in a broadcast tray, in tray substrate under light conditions, approximately 20-23 °C. Cover seeds to a depth of 1-2 cm. Germination can be erratic. When large enough to handle, transplant the plants into small individual pots in pot substrate. The pots can be placed in an unheated greenhouse, or outside when the risk of frost is over.
When fully rooted in the pots, plant outside in field, in semi-shade or sunny settings. Greater burdock succeeds in most well-drained soils but prefers a moist neutral to alkaline soil for partial shade and heavy soil for no shade.

Family: Asteraceae

Swedish: stor kardborre

Finnish: isotakiainen

Norwegian: storborre

Danish: glat burre

Icelandic: krókalappa

626274cb2c72f_3Arctium lappa 16, Grote klit, Saxifraga-Jan Nijendijk.jpgPhoto by Jan Nijendik/Saxifraga.
When fully rooted in the pots, plant outside in field, in semi-shade or sunny settings.
The seeds are best sown in situ during autumn, but this can also be carried out during spring. The seeds need minimum 10 °C to germinate. If cultivating in order to harvest the roots, it’s a good idea to get the young plants in the ground before the taproots develop. To gain long and straight roots, grow the burdock about 15 cm apart or in rows 30 cm apart with the plants five to eight cm apart in the rows. Harvest time is usually from September to October and the seeds are ripe when both the seeds pods and the stems below are brownish and dry. Always harvest in dry conditions. Use a pair of scissors to cut just below the seed pod. Be careful when harvesting the seeds, tiny hairs from the seeds can cause allergic reactions when inhaled.
Arctium lappa 25, Grote klit, Saxifraga-Willem van Kruijsbergen.jpegPhoto by Willem van Kruijsbergen /Saxifraga.
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