This is a large perenial plant that produces large purple, shaving-brush-like
flowers clumped on a large central stalk (up to 6 feet tall). In its first
year the basal rosets stay close to the ground. These leaves can be large
(up to 2 1/2 feet). During the second spring, a central stalk emerges
that bear the flowers.
The purple flowers are surrounded by a large involucral
with velcro-like hairs that are used to cling to passing animals and thus
aids greatley in its dispersal.
Burdock is also sometimes called lesser Burdock and has the scientific name
Arctium minus. This name (Arctium) comes from
the greek arktos meaning bear, which is an allusion
to the roughness of the burs.
The roots of the similar Arctium lappahave been used
medicinally for curing ailments that lead to dry skin. For more
information on this medicinal use, seek the reference of the sites below.
In general the plant is considered a noxious weed not only because of
its ability to disperse by attaching itself to mammals and birds, but
because of the problems it creates for livestock. The
burs can be cause irritation if they cling to the eyes, throught, mouth,
or the inside of the stomach. In some cases the seeds must be surgically
At first glance, the weed appears very similar to Cocklebur.
Yet, burdock seeds are rounder and softer, and can thus be easily distinguished.